The Motor City Molehill

Karl Rove said he was offended by Chrysler's Super Bowl ad featuring Clint Eastwood.

The kerfuffle over Clint Eastwood’s starring role in the now-infamous Chrysler ad that aired during the Super Bowl might be a tad overheated. A Hollywood icon strolling down some dimly lit urban side street delivered what I expect was supposed to be a rousing motivational speech, but ended up:

  • Incomprehensible: “It’s halftime… this isn’t a game.” (Which is it?)
  • Grammatically challenged: “This country can’t be knocked out with one punch; we get right back up again. And when we do, the world’s gonna hear the roar of our engines.”  (Flag on the play! Too many mixed metaphors on the field! That’s 15 yards and loss of simile!)
  • Just plain silly: “The people of Detroit… almost lost everything.” (They gave it away willingly.)

After 120 seconds of Eastwood pronouncing mashed-potato platitudes in his trademark growl, the logos of the various divisions of the post-bailout Chrysler Corporation flashed briefly on the screen beneath Chrysler’s sophomoric slogan: “Imported from Detroit™.”

I can grasp the idea of some folks knotting their undies after sitting through a jumble of non sequiturs ostensibly scripted to make them want to buy one of the union-thug crafted, taxpayer-funded jalopies while watching what was otherwise a very competitive football game — no matter who collected the paycheck for the voice-over. Perhaps viewers might have been less incensed by the interruption if the steely-eyed Eastwood had shot it out with Lee van Cleef while racing across the Mojave in a Jeep Wrangler. Or maybe Eastwood could have screeched through the hairpins of Lombard Street in a brand new Challenger drop top, a young Sandra Locke pinned to the passenger seat, hot on the tail of some San Francisco bad guy. But he wandered like a senile pensioner through some steamy concrete jungle (which turned out to be New Orleans in the role of the Motor City) while lecturing us like a cranky old neighbor about the value of an automaker that has been bailed out more than a leaky rowboat. That’s lousy advertising.

It is not, however, controversial. Beyond the waste of taxpayer dollars with which Chrysler (and General Motors Co.) will forever be deservedly linked, there’s nothing about the so-called “Halftime in America” spot that is innately controversial. Some Hollywood millionaire snared an easy paycheck (which he gave to charity) reciting a two-minute script that reads like it was assembled from a century’s worth of throwaways from forgotten locker-room speeches, and we all have to hear how Karl Rove told The Washington Post that he was offended? How does ol’ neocon Rove feel about the fact that millions of Americans have given up looking for work in the Barack Obama economy? White House flacks David Axelrod and Dan Pfeiffer both tweeted their support for the ad. Where is Axelrod on the revelations that Obama and the Democrats took hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the family of a Mexican drug lord who is a fugitive from justice? Where does Pfeiffer stand on Obama’s Constitution-abrogating decision to force Church-affiliated organizations to pay for everything except partial-birth abortions for their employees?

There are moments in which I suspect our leaders — whether elected or self-appointed — are willingly cooperating in an effort to distract us from the issues at hand. The fact that elitists both Democrat and Republican were ready to rev their rhetorical engines the moment the “Halftime in America” spot hit the airwaves makes me think I’m closer to the truth than I’d probably like to be. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize, people. Don’t be distracted by the hood ornaments or the 6.4 liter V-8.

By the way, the coolest car Eastwood ever drove onscreen was the 1972 Gran Torino from the 2008 film of the same name. The Gran Torino was built by un-bailed-out Ford and “imported” from Lorain, Ohio. Chrysler, Obama, Axelrod, Rove and Pfeiffer all wish they drove that nice a ride. If we keep allowing them to divert our attention from the issues that matter, so will we.

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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