Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Eastwood Ad

[heading south on Old US 421 between Staley and Siler City, NC, 2-8-12]

It is instructive to consider why insiders such as Mr. Rove would explode in indignation over a Chrysler ad featuring Clint Eastwood. The ad wasn't something that was going to burn into our subconscious for the next nine months. Mr. Rove, who is nothing if not savvy about advertising--he's been successfully selling the American public shit sandwich after shit sandwich for several decades now, and we keep wrinkling our noses but responding, "mmmmmmmm, good, though." Why not just let the ad drift down into oblivion, like all the other ads do.

Instead, Mr. Rove tells us all that he's "frankly, offended." By a message that asserts that America is in some ways a whole--a shared struggle which seems to be slowly paying off? What sort of offensive message can that be? Is the GOP really going to close the loop and now assert that not only were they against the Auto Industry Bailout (and Chrysler was bailed out by Mr. Bush, um, by the way), they're still against it, and still think the whole thing should have been allowed to collapse into ruin. Apparently that's the position.

And what bothers Mr. Rove is that by using Mr. Eastwood in the ad, the advertising company picked a voice that is deeply credible with the GOP base, and gave him a credible script so that he could in the ad say credible things to said base. And what that does--for the GOP--is a bit of spell-breaking.

The GOP has woven a powerful spell over the folks who listen constantly to right wing radio and otherwise buy into the idea that Mr. Obama is illegitimate in some or various ways. Every GOP candidate drums the same spell-binding message--spell-binding primarily because of the consistent across-the-board agreement. From Romney to Santorum, from Limbaugh to Krauthammer to Will, they all agree--Obama is somehow making America into something, well, "not-American." They all want to "take the country back." Yesterday on Chris Matthews, former Colorado congressman Tancredo said his dog was smarter than Mr. Obama.

Yet here's Mr. Eastwood--a credible voice--saying things are getting better. This might shatter the illusion. As well as consternation from Rove and many others about the ad, much air is being consumed this week arguing that the modest rise in employment is also somehow an illusion. "The statistics are from the (gasp) Labor Department." Well, no wonder then. Once again, the spell is being broken.

What the GOP wants is a profoundly divided America, a world of "us" and "them." Anything that suggests otherwise works against a voter choosing an obvious religious zelot muddle-head, or an obvious blowhard, or an obvious egotistic fratboy who still believes there should be no bailout of the auto industry, and no help for the millions of people entangled by their own home mortgages. If things are actually getting better, a conservative vote becomes "stay the course."

Well, driving to work the last few days I've noticed a sign at the gate to a plant I go past. It says "hiring riggers." It strikes me as a small indication that things are getting better--in some ways a more real indicator than the accurate graphs of employment which also show the same thing--that things bottomed a few months after Obama took office, and have been getting better since.

What the GOP continues to insist is a version of "believe me, or believe your lying eyes." For the Super Bowl, that bizarre balloon of celebration of everything middle-American, to feature an ad by Eastwood of all people--that amounts to an arrow straight into the confusion that the GOP works tirelessly to maintain. Eastwood is the ultimate straight shooter. You're going to believe Rove over him?
I doubt they can even argue that somehow he was "tricked" by some sneaky liberal advertising agency. He makes movies, after all, and that takes quite a lot of perspective and ability.

Hell, maybe another straight shooter will get back onto the radio in the wake of this flap. Next year, let's get the Hag up for the half-time show. He used to tell it straight, till the money boys pushed him off the big stage.

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