Rather than kicking back with a bucket of hot wings and a six pack during the Super Bowl halftime show, conservatives were busy getting into a tizzy over Chrysler’s two-minute long commercial in which conservative actor Clint Eastwood supposedly endorsed President Obama.So what happened? Did Dirty Harry blast the Dixie Chicks in a Town & Country with an “Obama 2012” bumper sticker? Not quite.
Click here to see what conservatives and liberals tweeted about the ad>>
Rather, the gravelly voiced 81-year-old was shown emerging from the shadows with a message meant to praise American resilience in a tough economy:
I’ve seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life. This country can’t be knocked out with one punch … We get right back up again – and when we do, the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, it’s halftime, America. And our second half is about to begin.
While some hailed the ad, titled “It’s Halftime in America,” as one of the Super Bowl’s most effective commercials — Business Insider readers ranked it as their favourite — conservatives saw it as an endorsement of the government’s controversial auto bailout, in which Chrysler received $12.5 billion from taxpayers.
The Super Bowl set new tweets-per-second records on Twitter, and unsurprisingly right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin immediately took her dismay to the internet, tweeting, “Agh. WTH? Did I just see Clint Eastwood fronting an auto bailout ad???
Karl Rove responded in kind on Fox News:
I was, frankly, offended by it. I’m a huge fan of Clint Eastwood. I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics. And the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.
John Chait joked in New York Magazine, “In case you fail to grasp the Chicago link, you probably never learned about the famous episode in which Mayor Daley bailed out Al Capone, who subsequently thanked him in a Super Bowl ad.”
But why this immense sense of betrayal?
In a sea of liberal Hollywood stars, Clint Eastwood’s pro-gun, rough and tumble sense of justice resonated with the conservative party, and he even became something of an icon for Ronald Reagan.
In fact, Reagan was even known to quote Dirty Harry from time to time, announcing during a 1985 speech threatening to veto legislation raising taxes, “I have only one thing to say to the tax increases. Go ahead — make my day.” (And again in 1986, “Go ahead America, make my decade.”)
The fact that “Halftime in America” is a riff on Regan’s famous “Morning in America” commercial only rubs salt in the wound. You don’t mess with the Gipper!
But even though liberals rejoiced at the Chrysler spot — David Axelrod, Obama’s senior advisor, tweeted “Powerful spot. Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?” — this could be a case of over-interpretation.
Only three months ago, Eastwood told the LA Times that he has voted Republican since 1952, only reconsidering when Ross Perot was a candidate in 1992, and was against the bailout he was supposedly endorsing. “We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies,” he told the LA Times. “If a CEO can’t figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn’t be the CEO.”
Eastwood himself released a statement on the matter to CNN:
“I just want to say that the spin stops with you guys, and there is no spin in that ad. On this I am certain,” Eastwood told Fox News, in a statement read on-air by Bill O’Reilly. “I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK. If Obama or any other politician wants to run with the spirit of that ad, go for it.”
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