This post is part of a Huffington Post series that showcases commentary from some of our most active and thoughtful users. See Marvin's commentary as HuffPost user Realpolitic here, and read his piece below.
Is Clint Eastwood's new Chrysler ad actually political propaganda for the Obama administration? The ad shows images of a bombed out factory, presumably in Detroit, a father dropping his son off at school, and a group of firemen, along with soaring music and a patriotic-sounding Eastwood narration, wearing his scowling countenance ripped right from the film classic Dirty Harry. Eastwood says "It's halftime in America..." almost like he menacingly whispered years ago in the film "I know what you're thinking: 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"
So we have to ask ourselves "Does Karl Rove feel Lucky? Well does he, huh, punk?" Rove says: "I was, frankly, offended by it... 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 and the best-wishes of the management which is benefited by getting a bunch of our money that they'll never pay back."
Of course, Rove is likely offended with anything that suggests Obama is anything but a Big Government socialist. Rove must see conspiracies behind every door, especially since his was the administration that warned us that "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud...." and that Saddam had ties to al Qaeda. Rove must think every administration operates in the same fashion that the one he orchestrated did. One could say the dirty tricks of Rove makes Chicago politics look downright amateurish, although "the Boss" Mayor Daley was famous for allegedly holding back the Chicago vote until he received the results from downstate Illinois to influence the Kennedy win of the 1960 election.
If this ad was a conspiracy to re-elect the president, as Chris Matthews asked: "Where did the conspirators meet?" Why does Rove suggest the commercial is paid for with our tax dollars when obviously it is a commercial made by Chrysler and, in the best tradition of capitalism, designed to sell us automobiles? Well, Rove is talking on Fox News where there is always some sort of surreal false narrative under creation. For example, guests on Fox and Friends earlier suggested that the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency within the Department of Labor headed by Commissioner Hilda Solis, D-Calif., was lying when they said the unemployment rate decreased to 8.3% in January. So we know Fox news is a Neverland where anything goes.
Finally, Rove says that the money that was loaned to the auto manufacturers initially by the Bush administration will never be paid back. Well, Rove may be right about that assertion, although he does not mention that 90% of the funds will be paid back. The Obama administration loaned Chrysler $8.5 billion, but the Bush administration extended $4 billion to the company as well. The Treasury Department admits that U.S. taxpayers will not recoup about $1.3 billion of the entire $12.5 billion investment when all is said and done. Therefore, while not earning a full Pinocchio with his remarks, Rove can be said to be spinning the truth, which is after all what made him the political dirty trickster and media aficionado he is today.
Of course, Romney has taken both sides of the automobile bailout issue. He has stated a possible solution is to lower fuel mileage requirements perhaps with the logic of allowing Detroit to continue to make the big cars it is famous for. Specifically, Romney argued that if the automakers "get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won't go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed."
Of course, he was wrong, but then he argued for a "managed bankruptcy" in which a company uses a bankruptcy code to discharge its debts and then emerges from the process leaner and less-leveraged. Therefore, he supported a private sector restructuring under the protection of the bankruptcy laws. Critics have said, in fact, that Romney's paln would not have worked in 2008 as credit markets were frozen at the time. Additionally, in this alternative the company would still have the stigma of declaring bankruptcy and who wants to buy a car from a bankrupt company whose future of their extended warranty's are in doubt?
We have to ask ourselves was the investment worth it? General Motors is on track to earning ten billion annually and raising its profit margin from 6 to 10%. Chrysler is more profitable than its savior Fiat. Concerning the number of jobs saved, ProPublica's Braden Goyette writes:
There is little independent data on how many jobs were saved as a result of the auto industry bailout. But a study from the Center for Automotive Research, which receives some industry funding, says the bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler saved more than one million jobs in the auto industry, supply chain, and communities where auto workers spend their paychecks, a figure Obama echos in his speeches on the bailout. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry added 45,000 in the nine months after the GM bailout.
Therefore, in a showdown between the pasty Karl Rove and Dirty Harry, with his famous .45 caliber Magnum at his side, I would have to place my money on the San Francisco detective Harry. Rove may resent the success of the bailout as being an example of government activism that succeeded and with unions taking an ownership percentage in GM and Chrysler, but Chrysler in the profoundest spirit of capitalism should have the ability to tout its success. Surely, Karl Rove would not want to interfere with the free speech rights of a corporation, as he even wants to expand the Citizens United decision to let political candidates appear in advertisements paid for by PACs. He surely agrees with Romney that "corporations are people, my friend!" In all, the commercial was very entertaining and Clint Eastwood is an American icon, as much so as Karl Rove is scorned.