Yesterday, I bought a new car for the first time in my life: a 2009 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL.

Significantly, I traded in our 2002 Jeep Cherokee with 107,000 miles, a multitude of dings, dents, and scratches, a severely damaged tailgate (the product of an anonymous miscreant at the Target parking lot), an engine and drive train in the twilight of life, and a terminally unreliable right tail light.

As a result of "cash for clunkers," I received $4,500 for my trade-in (which I estimate is at least two grand more than any competent used car manager would have allowed). Add a fifteen-hundred-dollar factory rebate--and a little bit of dickering, and I feel pretty good about my "deal."

A few thoughts on my transaction:

1. "Cash for Clunkers" achieved its desired effect. It was the little program that could. Of all the humiliating disappointments and egregious inefficiencies in the $787 billion dollar stimulus program, the modest one-billion dollar incentive to trade in your jalopy and buy a new car proved singularly exciting and effective. As I say, I am forty-four years-old and this is the first new car I have ever bought in my life.

The Obamanomics brain trust should take note.

2. I bought a Nissan. There is no action in American culture driven more by emotion than buying a new car. Logically, I wanted to think seriously about buying a so-called American car. But, way down in my gut, I opted not to buy a vehicle manufactured by "Obama Motors" (which I am not especially proud to admit). Moreover, while I am rooting for Ford Motor Company to emerge as the great American car company of the 21st century, I could not bring myself to look on the Ford lot either.

In the end, I chose the Nissan Altima, manufactured in Canton, Mississippi, by non-UAW employees. I bought local (in Waco), helped out the Central Texas economy, and met some nice folks along the way. My conscience is relatively clear. Emotionally, I felt more secure with a Japanese-engineered mid size put together by hard-working Southerners far removed from the cancerous grip of latter day unionism.

3. Thus far, the good news for the program has been eclipsed by the incompetence of its administration. Obviously, no one at the White House or the Department of Transportation expected this type of incentive to catch on quite the way it did. After just four days at full speed, the DOT indecorously suspended the program as worries mounted that orders had already exceeded funding. While the President and the House moved quickly on Friday to extend the program, the frustration and schadenfreude over administrative uncertainty and sluggishness in implementing the plan nearly overshadowed the excitement associated with the program's success.

How will this be viewed by a public uncharacteristically engaged? Will the electorate see President Obama as the benevolent dispenser of down payments for new vehicles? Make no mistake, that is the best kind of PR for the White House--we are still looking for presidents who can deliver "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage."

Or, does the President suffer from the stigma of bureaucratic ineptitude? Certainly, the right-wing talkers were peddling that interpretation. With the government websites cratering--and the program on-again and then off-again and then likely on-again, Rush Limbaugh used the incident as the perfect opportunity to ask:

"Is this really the people you want running your health care?"

"Sorry, mam, the computer is down, and I cannot get the okay for your emergency procedure."

"Yesterday we had funding for hip surgeries in your demographic--but we are waiting for the Senate to approve emergency appropriations for today's schedule."

The suddenly famous "Cash for Clunkers" program runs the risk of becoming an allegory for government's ability to ameliorate our health care system. While no one questions that progressives sincerely want to use government to make life better for people, the question has always been whether government can actually solve problems or, rather, create even worse unintended consequences with its ham-handed and shortsighted interventions.

Will "Cash for Clunkers" come to symbolize a progressive-government approach still not ready for prime time?

If the Obama administration, which fervently asks for stewardship of one of the most important segments of our life, cannot be successful in this relatively small and uncomplicated endeavor, we are likely to be much more skeptical of placing them in authority over what promises to be the most arduous and convoluted government undertaking in the history of our nation?

The Obama White House better start working overtime to make Clunkers work and, more importantly, put their best minds on selling the program as a great success. Our propogandists have a huge head start going the opposite direction.

No matter, in the end, I predict that this is likely a case in which the truth will triumph. No matter which way the talking heads spin it, this episode likely provides a telling window into the soul and constitution of the Obama administation.