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Republicans’ reaction to Chrysler Super Bowl ad beautiful for Dems

Updated: March 9, 2012 8:20AM

You’d think the Republican Party would have learned something about going off-message after the entertaining train wreck of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich giving each other grief for making money. “You’re a rich guy!” “No, YOU’RE a rich guy!”

Fat chance. Now they’re making Dirty Harry the poster guy for liberal politics.

Raise your hand if your first reaction to the Clint Eastwood “Halftime in America” Super Bowl ad was to howl, “That’s nothing but a political ad for Barack Obama!”

I found the spot to be a poetic but relatively mainstream and safe sequel to that rousing Chrysler ad from the previous Super Bowl with Eminem driving through the city as we’re told, “The Chrysler 200 has arrived. Imported from Detroit.”

Now that was killer stuff. This was much more middle-of-the-road. In his famous tough-guy whisper, Eastwood draws obvious parallels between the game of football and the game of life in America as we see visuals of the Detroit skyline, Americans getting up and starting their day, the Detroit flag, the American flag, scenes from an auto plant, black-and-white still shots of families.

“It’s halftime. Both teams are in their locker room discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half.

“But it’s halftime in America too. People are out of work and they’re hurting. . . . And we’re all scared, because this isn’t a game.

“The people of Detroit . . . almost lost everything. But we all pulled together, now Motor City is fighting again . . .

“This country can’t be knocked down with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines.”

Awesome. God bless America.

Car commercial — or political ad?

There is a moment when the spot gets semi-political. As Eastwood talks about “the fog of discord, division and blame [making] it hard to see what lies ahead,” we see a piece of television footage of an agitated commentator. And then we see a very brief snippet of a demonstration in front of the Wisconsin Capitol Building.

The two-minute spot ends with Eastwood telling us, “Yeah, it’s halftime in America. And our second half is about to begin.”

Of course, Chrysler might not even be around were it not for a $12.5 billion government bailout, and of course we know Detroit is hardly thriving to this day. But what a clumsy misstep for Republican strategist Karl Rove and other conservatives to work themselves into a lather over the ad.

Rove said he was “offended” by the spot, adding, “The president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising and the best wishes of the management, which is benefitted by getting a bunch of our money that they’ll never pay back.”

Right. Obama made the call, and Chrysler jumped. “Time to pay back the prez with a Super Bowl ad!”

Question: Is Rove talking about the $4 billion in bailout money Chrysler got from the Bush administration, or the $8.5 billion from the Obama administration? And is he unaware 90 percent of the money has been paid back?

Ultra-conservative commentator Michelle Malkin tweeted, “Agh. WTF? Did I just see Clint Eastwood fronting an auto bailout ad???” Tea Party leader Michael Johns claimed, “Americans saw right through Chrysler Super Bowl message, and they aren’t digging it.” Viewers of “Fox and Friends” voted the spot their least favorite of all the Super Bowl ads.

Kudos to Newt Gingrich for cutting through the ridiculousness by calling the ad “pro-American” and saying he was sure Eastwood (who endorsed John McCain in 2008 and who just last November told the Los Angeles Times he didn’t support the bailout) “did not make a pro-Obama ad.”

But the reaction from Rove, Malkin and company? Wow. Democrats couldn’t have plotted a better scenario. Clint Eastwood fronting an ad about the auto industry and the American spirit and bouncing back — and Republicans are howling about it?


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