Compensation: Motown's Fat Cats

An unseemly spat over the salaries and perks of American and Japanese auto chiefs points up a weakness in the U.S. case for fair trade

The trip was billed as a global showdown, an expedition designed to "level the playing field," as American businessmen are wont to say. Yet even before George Bush's new 747 touched down at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Japan and its supporters had deftly weakened the American campaign to win trade concessions by raising a touchy issue: large disparities in the money paid to American CEOs and their Japanese counterparts.

Under particular scrutiny, naturally, were the salaries and perks of the three U.S. auto-company chiefs -- Chrysler's Lee Iacocca, Ford's Harold Poling and GM's Robert Stempel -- all of whom accompanied the President...