To that end, “it’s halftime in America” seems an even more direct echo of “it’s morning again in America,” with the Obama presidency at its “halftime” mark, “discussing what they can do to win the second half.” If the people of Detroit “almost lost everything” before “we all pulled together,” much of that is because of the Obama administration’s intervention there, with roughly $85 billion in federal aid pumped into GM and Chrysler back in spring of 2009. Some of that has yet to be repaid, and the government will probably take a loss on the transaction. But with GM going from the verge of bankruptcy in 2009 to profitability in 2010 to top car company in the world in 2011, President Obama is positioning the auto bailout as one of his administration’s success stories — and a contrast to presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who argued to “let Detroit go bankrupt” in a 2008 New York Times op-ed, predicting that if the bailout were granted, “you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”
The Chrysler spot almost feels like a direct rebuke to that op-ed, while its pleas to ignore division and discord in favor of a common sense centrism seems pulled directly from the Obama playbook. So what is Eastwood doing in it? A lifelong GOPer, he not only served as Republican mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in the late 1980s, but supported John McCain in 2008. But Clint’s no tea partier. A self-described “Eisenhower Republican,” he supports environmental protection, abortion rights, and gay marriage (“I don’t give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else!” he memorably said in GQ last year. “Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want”). But, weirdly, he told the LA Times just last November that he was against the very bailout that the Chrysler ad implicitly trumpets. “I’m a big hawk on cutting the deficit,” he said. “I was against the stimulus thing too. We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies. If a CEO can’t figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn’t be the CEO.”
So was what aired at halftime last night an Obama 2012 ad? It looked like one, and sounded like one, but it was fronted by a famed Republican who previously spoke out against the very government intervention that the spot seemed to endorse. So maybe it was just… pro-America? Hey, remember when that was a nonpartisan thing? “This country can’t be knocked out with one punch,” Eastwood growls at its conclusion. “We get right back up again and when we do, the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, it’s halftime, America, and our second half is about to begin.”
Then again, maybe it’s just a car ad. There’s always that possibility.