Clint Eastwood's Super Bowl ad for Chrysler did not make some Republicans' day, but his no-nonsense rebuttal to criticism is a marvel of concision and emphatic message control.
The political impartiality of Eastwood's two-minute tome on Detroit clawing its way back from the brink was questioned by Karl Rove, former political adviser to President George W. Bush, who told Fox: "I was, frankly, offended by it...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."
Given it's an election year, and with a topic that is sure to be broached by the Republican presidential nominee—the auto industry bailout—it's clear why the commercial elicited negative reactions from some. After all, it's hard to separate the Eastwood line "It's halftime in America, and the second half is about to begin" from Obama's bid for a second term.
But Eastwood bolstered his reputation as a straight shooter in a statement to Fox News late Monday, giving a calm and rational explanation of the ad's—and his—message: "There is no spin in that ad. On that I'm certain. I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it...If Obama or any other politician wants to run with the spirit of that ad, I say go for it."
Eastwood has a lot of capital going for him in this controversy. A longtime registered Republican who has said that he opposed Obama's bailout move, Eastwood's reputation in Detroit is stellar because of his film Gran Torino
, in which he played a retired auto worker. In addition, Eastwood's fee for the ad is going to charity (not that he needs the money).
Given the politically charged environment these days, perhaps Rove and others who criticized Chrysler and Eastwood for the ad should be given a pass. But the controversy does prove one thing: Don't mess with Clint Eastwood.
Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01