Does Eastwood have GOP election hopes in his sites or is the controversy much ado about nothing?
By Lee Pfeiffer
A powerful, slickly-produced Chrysler Super Bowl ad that ran during half time is stirring political controversy from unlikely sources: the Republican party, which usually embrace's the ad's star, Clint Eastwood. The two minute-spot has a gravelly voiced Eastwood walking out of the shadows to extoll the fact that the American auto industry is in the midst of making an enormously successful comeback. That might sound like something all Americans would be happy about, but in an election year, pundits on both sides see subliminal messages everywhere. GOP supporters don't deny the TV spot was highly effective, but they have a gripe with Eastwood's assurance that the auto industry's comeback was only at half-time" and the best was yet to come. Republican critics say the term half-time is a coded endorsement for a second term for President Obama. Others mock that assessment, pointing out that the "half-time" reference pertained to the fact that the spot ran during the game's half-time slot and that Eastwood has never indicated he was supporting Obama's re-election.
Republicans generally criticized President Obama's decision to make massive loans to the failing American auto industry. The presumed GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, called for the government to let the free market take its course, even if it meant the complete bankruptcy of the car industry. Romney has been modifying those remarks in the wake of the industry's success, implying that the plan proved to be successful because Obama adopted certain financial policies that Romney had long endorsed. However, GOP advisers had been concerned from the moment Romney stated his position, pointing out his words could come back to haunt him because, while Americans would detest another bailout of banks, they would probably empathize with loans to the auto industry that would save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of workers.
Some Democratic pundits are saying that the ad is completely apolitical and that GOP critics are overly-sensitive. They point out that, while Eastwood has traditionally stayed clear of commenting on national politics, the few comments he has made in the past make it clear he favored Republicans and conservatives. In fact, it was recently revealed that the first President Bush considered asking Eastwood to run with him as Vice-President in 1988. In 2008, he made a rare endorsement for a presidential candidate, backing John McCain, thus making him an unlikely supporter of Obama's campaign for re-election. That hasn't stopped high profile GOP advisers like Karl Rove from complaining that, while he is a fan of Eastwood's, the super star is willingly being used as a political tool by Democratic operatives, a notion that Eastwood dismisses. In a statement, Eastwood said he is not endorsing anyone at this time in the presidential race and that the ad was non-political. He said, "I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant
to be a message about, just about job growth and the spirit of America. I
think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK."
Is the Eastwood spot a subliminal Obama endorsement or is it truly an apolitical, patriotic statement? Click here to view and make up your own mind?