Video: Chrysler ad a stealth Obama promotion?; Update: Video restored

posted at 3:40 pm on February 6, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Did Chrysler buy two minutes of the most expensive television time possible to air a stealth promotion for Barack Obama? Clint Eastwood narrates and appears in Chrysler’s spot, in which he declares that we have reached “halftime in America,” which seems to hint at a two-term Presidency for Obama:

Politico covers the controversy:

“It’s halftime. Both teams are in their locker rooms discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half. It’s halftime in America, too.” Eastwood says. “People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re gonna do to make a comeback.”

Pointing to improvement in the auto industry as a positive sign, the “Dirty Harry” star goes on, “Detroit’s showing us it can be done. …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.”

Though the commercial didn’t mention any politicians by name, Twitter quickly lit up with speculation: Was Eastwood giving props to President Obama for bailing out the auto industry?  And was the ad a veiled endorsement of his re-election?

David Axelrod, a top campaign adviser to Obama, seemed quick to interpret it that way, calling the ad a “powerful spot.”

Karl Rove blasted the ad as offensive on Fox News this morning, as did the Boss Emeritus yesterday:

“I was, frankly, offended by it,” said Karl Rove on Fox News Monday. “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.”

“Agh. WTH?” tweeted conservative commentator Michelle Malkin. “Did I just see Clint Eastwood fronting an auto bailout ad???”

Kyle Wingfield of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found it equally offensive as a piece of taxpayer-funded propaganda:

But the halftime Chrysler commercial starring Clint Eastwood, describing America as being in its own “halftime,” was just overtly politicized. After all, what else could “halftime” have meant, in the year 2012, than halfway through the eight years Barack Obama would be president if re-elected this fall? I’m fairly certain it wasn’t a prediction that the country will break up circa 2248 A.D.

Chrysler of course has a right to political speech. But it would be nice if the company wouldn’t be so brazen about its leanings while still owing the entire country — left, right and center — billions of dollars.

Chrysler denies having a political motive in mind, presumably other than making the argument for the bailout, which the ad does very clearly if not quite explicitly.  Their CEO laughably asks that “it doesn’t get utilized in as political fodder in a debate” after spending millions of dollars during the Super Bowl proclaiming the wisdom of the bailout.  Maybe if Chrysler had stuck to promoting its latest models rather than complaining about Americans debating over policy and then declaring America in its “halftime,” Sergio Marchionne wouldn’t have to hope that his car company would get excused from political debates in the future.  Sounds like the same kind of whining that led to the bailout in the first place.

Eastwood’s involvement in this issue is rather ironic, since — as the Washington Post points out in its coverage — Eastwood opposed the auto bailouts:

“I’ve always been very liberal when it comes to people thinking for themselves,” said Eastwood, who supports gay marriage, abortion rights and environmental protection. “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.”

Well, Clint, I hope the paycheck from the endorsement made your day, and, er … hope it clears, too.  Sounds as though Eastwood switched teams at his halftime.

Update (Allahpundit): Oddly enough, the White House seems okay with it.

Update (Ed): YouTube pulled the ad after Chrysler claimed its posting violated its copyright. I got the new code from Politico, which seems to have a little more testicular fortitude than YouTube and its parent, Google.


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