The obligatory Springsteen "unity" Jeep Super Bowl ad

The obligatory Springsteen "unity" Jeep Super Bowl ad

Made me laugh to see this roll out when we’re 48 hours from a viciously divisive impeachment trial. Which stems, of course, from fans of one party’s candidate attempting a half-assed violent putsch to try to stop the other party’s candidate from taking power.

The thunder road back to a reunited country is a long one.

The obvious problem with making Springsteen the pitchman for a “unity” message is that his politics are well known and do not occupy “the middle.” He’s a man of the left and has been outspoken about his disdain for Trump. A week before the election, he crowed that America was about to throw “the bums” out of the White House. He’s written anti-Trump songs and played recently at Biden’s inauguration. Asking him to sell unity is like asking George Clooney to do it. If you tap a known political quantity as your celebrity spokesman for healing, inescapably you’re suggesting that “the middle” lies in the ideological space occupied by the spokesman himself.

My sense of the Boss’s politics is that they’re even more progressive than Joe Biden’s. Is that “the middle”?

On the other hand, the fact that liberals were writing critiques like this after the commercial aired made me wonder if Bruce hadn’t stumbled onto some middle ground after all:

Despite the healing sound of his voice, Springsteen is ultimately preaching reconciliation without reckoning — which after January’s Capitol siege is no longer an acceptable path toward progress. Plus, this is Bruce Springsteen. Isn’t he the guy who’s supposed to know everything about hard work? Suggesting that we should all swiftly and metaphorically travel to the nucleus of White, rural America to make up and move along feels insulting and wrong.

Baffling, too. Springsteen’s songbook has long stood up for the marginalized and the disenfranchised, but here, in lieu of writing a new song, he’s sticking up for a car company whose products are hastening the death of our planet — a death that the boomer demo being courted with this two-minute clip won’t have to witness.

An interesting thing about Springsteen is that, even though he’s solidly left, his audience of aging working-class white guys doubtless contains a lot, lot, lot of Trump fans. The marketing officer who convinced Springsteen to do the ad (after pursuing him for a decade) says that the Boss ended up viewing it as a “prayer” for healing, presumably aimed chiefly at his own audience. But, as Dan McLaughlin notes, there’s a problem with the timing: “For a celebrity so identified with one party to go to the other side’s turf after his side has won the election and call for unity is not really an effective tactic. People see it for what it is: We won, now get together behind us.” What exactly is Springsteen selling? Jeeps? Genuine national unity? Or acquiescence in the legitimacy of rule by Democrats?

Exit question: How did a Jersey bro like Bruce end up with heartland cowboy cred anyway?

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