At the State of the Union address just four months ago, President Obama sang the praises of Apple, a company that is consummately American — from its logo to its fashion-driven product line. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook sat proudly in Michelle Obama’s box as the president announced that for the first time in years, Mac computers would be built in America.
Last week Cook found himself in a box of a very different sort. With candor and patience that put his inquisitors off stride, he endured hours of grilling before the Senate Investigations Subcommittee. Carl Levin, the panel’s chairman, described Apple’s behavior as “gimmickry” and accused them of pursuing “the holy grail of tax avoidance.” Within the fickle confines of Washington, David Bowie got it right: “We can be heroes just for one day.”