Conservatives spent Monday being outraged about the Chrysler Super Bowl ad featuring Clint Eastwood. They were upset that the great Western hero and former Republican would highlight Detroit manufacturing, which they argued was an implicit endorsement of Obama's policies. “I was, frankly, offended by it,” Karl Rove said on Fox News. “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’s theme was more closely informed by Barack Obama’s recent SOTU call for the country to put aside its differences and march to the president’s tune than by the rugged individualism that one usually associates with the star who played Dirty Harry and The Man with No Name," National Review's Charles C.W. Cooke wrote.
I was more ambivalent. It's nice to see American auto manufactures back on their feet and willing to trumpet a revitalized Detroit, but I found the ad a bit saccharine. The halftime metaphor only worked because it was delivered with Eastwood gravitas.
But it's amusing to see conservatives up in arms over it. It's odd that a message which favors the country uniting under a common cause must serve as a subversive political endorsement. Even if this were a more directly pro-Obama ad, it is a strange reversal to watch conservatives decry a corporation's decision to enter politics—after all, that's the exact vision of campaign financing that conservatives have clamored for over the past decade and finally achieved through Citizens United. Conservatives also have no qualms with unfettered corporate money funding super PACs that will disparage Obama in the general election.
Eastwood denied any political motivation in the ad's message Monday. That not likely to appease conservatives, especially since Chrysler represents the successful bailout of manufacturing that will trouble Republicans in the coming election. At heart, even if Chrysler held a manifest interest in seeing Obama re-elected, it wouldn't be all that different from a Wall Street billionaire funneling money to a Romney super PAC in the hope of having his taxes lowered in the future.