The most embarrassing Super Bowl gaffe?

posted at 9:30 am on February 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Was it the two picks thrown by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger?  No, even though they were the difference in the game as the Green Bay Packers won by six points, 31-25.  Was it Christina Aguilera botching the national anthem on the world’s biggest stage?  No, not really, as I’ll explain below.  J. P. Freire at the Examiner points out the most embarrassing Super Bowl gaffe, which had nothing to do with football or the show last night:

You may have noticed that Chrysler released the longest ad in Super Bowl history on Sunday night, featuring the new Chrysler 200 driven by Detroit native rap star Eminem, an ad that CEO Sergio Marchionne says cost less than $9 million. But given that the company’s CEO also announced this past week that is seeking a “better deal” on government loans, it is likely that this ad had more to do with getting political support than selling cars. Besides, is spending millions on a Super Bowl ad appropriate for a company that received a taxpayer bailout to recover from a bankruptcy?

Not only did Chrysler spend $9 million on a long Super Bowl ad when asking for a better deal on their loan from taxpayers, the CEO of Chrysler managed to insult taxpayers for not offering more friendly terms on their government bailout:

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the automaker was in talks to refinance its expensive government loans — and criticized the government for charging him “shyster” rates.

Marchionne has noted that the company paid $1.2 billion in interest on its government loans and other obligations in 2010, resulting in a net loss.

“I am paying shyster rates,” Marchionne said, noting that Chrysler had no choice in 2009 but to pay the high interest rates the government set as part of its $15 billion Chrysler bailout. “We had no choice… I am going to pay the shyster loans.”

He called the loans “a thorn in my side.”

Marchionne even manages to get his insult wrong.  “Shyster” refers to attorneys, not lenders.  He may have meant “shylock,” which is slang for loan sharks, which is itself slang for usurious lenders backed with the threat of violence.  Either way, Freire dismantles Marchionne’s complaint as well as Chrysler’s claim in the ad that they and Detroit have survived the “hottest fires” to get back on their feet:

One: Chrysler didn’t go through the hottest fires. Unless, of course, “hottest fires” means “skipping bankruptcy” and asking for a handout to protect union pensions, which it got. And when Fiat was able to take control of Chrysler, it was because of a heavily politicized deal facilitated by the president’s auto task force. It even got $6.6 billion in exit financing by Uncle Sam. Most failing businesses have trouble finding buyers. Not Chrysler.

Two: Detroit may have been through a self-imposed over-taxed, over-regulated hell, but it certainly hasn’t come back. Budget numbers still show Detroit’s books in the red, despite Mayor Dave Bing’s best efforts to rein in spending. And Pew reveals that Detroit residents spend more for their municipal legislature than any other major city in the U.S. Heck, even its library is facing a dire fiscal crisis.

It’s bad enough that we spent billions to rescue Chrysler from its decades of poor labor-relations and marketing decisions.  Now we have Marchionne complaining that taxpayers damaged the rope his company wrapped around its neck when we cut them down from the gallows.

As for Aguilera, perhaps she should have focused more on learning her lines than in crafting all the vocal stylings that now apparently must accompany the national anthem wherever it is sung:

Singer Christina Aguilera got things off on the wrong foot tonight at Super Bowl XLV, when she mangled the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” to kick off the meeting between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The pop star botched the line, “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming,” repeating an earlier line of the song, though she messed up that one, too.

She sang “What so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last gleaming,” but in that line, it is supposed to be “hailed,” not “watched.”

“The Star-Spangled Banner” is a notoriously difficult song to sing, though the problem most performers have is with the range of the song, not the words.

Singers have two jobs: get the words right and hit the right notes. Aguilera certainly isn’t the first singer at a sporting event to fail the first task, nor is she the first singer to turn the national anthem into a pop ballad with ludicrous vocal flourishes, which even the ABC anchor skewers at the end of this clip. But at least she didn’t miss the words on purpose, and didn’t call American taxpayers “shysters” or “shylocks” or take money from taxpayers and then gripe that she didn’t get a better deal for it.


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