Countdown begins for Mary Barra, the new General Motors chief who appears to have been set up for a fall.

barraShe apparently wants to helm the “new GM,” which wants nothing to do with the responsibilities of the old GM. That’s a strategy honed by President Obama, who prefers to deal with his political priorities rather than global realities. Obama these days isn’t exactly looking like a Mount Rushmore candidate.

On Tuesday, GM filed a motion in bankruptcy court, seeking a ruling to protect the automaker for ignition switch lawsuits seeking only economic damage. GM maintains it doesn’t want to prevent suits stemming from deaths, injuries or property damages. How noble of the company that may or may not have knowingly put the lives of the customers at risk!

GM’s initial U.S.-engineered bankruptcy filing already alienated a good chunk of America and partly drove the robust comeback of arch-rival Ford Motor, which retained its dignity and independence during the global financial meltdown.

GM’s flight to the court this week adds to its ward of the state image.

Seeking the liability shield in the defective ignition switch saga is surely a sound legal move for Team Barra. The development, however, is a lousy PR especially when Team Barra declares its intention to be completely transparent and customer-friendly.

Mary’s legal flight doesn’t appear to be friendly or concerned with the owners and family members of the 2.6M Chevy Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small-models affected by the switch recall.

Perhaps, Barra should stage her own recall of Selim Bingol, GM’s senior VP-global communications and public policy chief, who was ousted April 14, replaced by purported crisis whiz Jeff Eller of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, who is off to an inauspicious start.