In case you haven't heard, the first quarter of 2011 was General Motors's best in more than a decade. The company took in about $3.2 billion--more than triple what it earned in the first quarter of 2010. The New York Times has a full report on the automaker's winter success story, including its $1.9 billion in gains from selling ownership interests in different companies.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times notes that GM's gangbusters quarter isn't an outlier for the industry: "The company's gain follows a massive $2.6-billion profit announced by Ford last week. This week, Chrysler recorded its first profit--$116 million--since emerging from bankruptcy nearly two years ago."

It's all welcome news for the economy, and most especially for Detroit, but Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic writes that we should also regard it as a feather in President Obama's cap. "Will the voters will ever give President Obama credit for rescuing the American auto industry?" Cohn writes. "I have no idea. But it looks more and more like they should." He goes on to say,

If not for the Obama Administration's intervention, the entire American auto industry might very well have collapsed and taken the Midwest with it. Instead, the industry is on the rebound, at least for now. That's not bad for government work.

Steve Benen, similarly left-leaning at The Washington Monthly, concurs, calling the recovery of the auto industry "the most under-covered success story of the Obama era" and marveling that "Republicans still consider this a failure." And Kevin Drum at Mother Jones makes the liberal trifecta: "Obama almost certainly made the right call [to bail out the automakers]... It's not something anyone wants to repeat--and GM's board better understand that it's unlikely it ever will be--but under the circumstances it was the best we could do."

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