What appeared to be a simple, patriotic commercial during the halftime of the Super Bowl has turned into a political football between the right and left.
Clint Eastwood starred in a two-minute Chrysler commercial which suggested that it was “halftime in America,” and that the second half would be a better one for the country. The commercial had political undertones that did not go unnoticed. The Hollywood Reporter wrote:
The Super Bowl is televised advertising’s equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival, so White House political strategists must have been smiling when what’s generally being hailed as this year’s best spot — the Chrysler “Halftime in America” commercial — subtly echoed the themes of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.
The commercial concedes that the past few years have been rough for Detroit, the auto industry and the country, but that we can pull together, like Detroit did. “They almost lost everything,” Eastwood says. “But we all pulled together. Now Motor City is fighting again.”
It’s hard to ignore the nod to the 2010 bailout, when the Obama administration loaned $60 billion to auto companies to pull them out of bankruptcy.
The commercial finishes with some fighting words in Eastwood’s signature gruff voice: “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.”
To some, the commercial was viewed as a very good campaign ad for Obama — the “halftime” being the 2012 election, before a second term as president.
Top Democrats applauded the commercial during the game on Twitter.
David Axelrod, senior policy advisor to President Obama, tweeted: “Powerful spot. Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?”
Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: “And Clint, the consensus is u done a good thing standing up 4 Detroit–& your sermon seemed 2 b a call 2 give O his “second half.” #sellcars”
But conservatives were less than thrilled by the commercial. On Fox News Monday, Karl Rove stated that he was “offended” by the ad:
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.
The commercial is seemingly contradictory to Eastwood’s rightward-leaning views. As a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative and social liberal, the actor told the LA Times last year:
“I’ve always been very liberal when it comes to people thinking for themselves. But I’m a big hawk on cutting the deficit. I was against the stimulus thing too. We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies. If a CEO can’t figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn’t be the CEO.”
Eastwood also said that he has been disillusioned with the Republican Party over the past few years. He told GQ last year: “[O]ver the years, I realized there was a Republican philosophy that I liked. And then they lost it. And libertarians had more of it.”