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Stephen Herrington Headshot

Clint Whispers, Conservatives Cringe

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Softly, he speaks softly, Eastwood whispered the thing that is on everyone's mind. We need to pull together, as families, as communities, as states of the union and as a nation. His halftime Super Bowl ad for Chrysler, purposely akin to a coach exhorting his team to victory, channeled a long remembered can do spirit now lost in America seeking a public to embrace it. At any other crucial moment in our brief history as a nation, this modest if cinematically impactful thirty seconds would have universally praised as art inspiring us to realize our most noble natures of team, common interest and country.

It was unequivocally condemned as liberal propaganda by conservatives. Liberal (cough) propaganda from Clint Eastwood? I think not. Instead it was a classic universally conservative message. If we all pull together and work hard we will see a better day as always we have, due to that hard work and sacrifice. Condemnation is an odd reaction from the professional right.

Other than the notion that it seems to validate that the Chrysler bailout has worked out for America after the fact, there is nothing in it that advocates anything that you wouldn't hear from any Republican president in any State of the Union for the last 50 years. Of course at this moment in our political physics, any political person watching recognized it immediately for what the ad would become over and above what was said. It was a gut level demarcation of the battle lines between liberal and conservative. It was visceral as an art piece and in impact, impressionistic enough so that you made of it what your ethos wanted it to be.

Conservatives saw a threat. The hate hurled at Clint by conservatives over this 30 seconds utterly emblazons that in the sky for all to behold. The conservatives do not care for an America pulling together. They will eat their own to prevent such advocacy. Only the "job creators" can save America from decline and fall, at their whim.

Conservative not only don't care whether or not America wins in the second half, but are trying as hard as they can, within what gives political cover, to make things worse for America and Americans. They have said so, outright, that defeating Obama is their sole priority. So the subtle drama of an American icon rendering a message of deliverance in a dark stadium exit ramp, is not only lost on conservatives, it is to be despised as counter to their dearest objective. That objective is to create so much misery and defeatism in the American people that they will give up and not vote at all. Clint edged out of the darkness into the light in the last few seconds striking the tone of hope. So misery and despair is clearly not the message Clint delivered, so conservatives loathe it. It seems Clint doesn't realize that the Republican party, as he knew and embraced it, is dead.

The GOP that Clint knew did not, in truth, have a long life. After the Roosevelts got through thrashing the conservatives in the first half of the twentieth century, conservative elders rightly found that they were no match for liberals in the court of public opinion, so they went underground. They had learned that average Americans generally have more sense of community and shared goals than do the more insular and vicious wealthy, and that average Americans outnumber the wealthy. So the conservatives hid on the margins of governance for 40 years. Reagan swept them back to power with the big lie perfected and an amicable delivery. Conservatives then began to unlearn the lessons of the Roosevelts to become what they have now become, a movement that does not realize that the majority of Americans are appalled by their conservative self centered ways. Really, your mother taught you to share.

Conservatives are now so long drunk of power that they can't seem to see that nobody likes them, that nobody has ever liked them when they actually say what they have in mind, not even their mothers. Some of the older wiser conservatives know that the agenda of the right cannot bear the light of public scrutiny. The true agenda has to be disguised and offered in such terms as "right to work" instead of what it really is, union busting. Free enterprise, a mainstay of conservative soporifics, is itself a misdirection. "Free enterprise" does not mean that all enterprises are free to compete, it means that those with the most resources are free to crush competition.

Some, like Clint, fell for the gentler kinder branding of the conservatives. Bush '41 actually revealed a great deal with his explicit use of the term "kinder, gentler America" during his 1992 campaign. His "thousand points of light" call for private charity to replace government safety nets was archetypical conservative window dressing.

Now the GOP is tearing itself up trying to find the perfect candidate. But the terms of that perfection have changed. In Clint's GOP, they cast about for the candidate that could most effectively give cover to conservative intentions. Among the most mainstream Republicans they sought only to stand against the conservative's greatest fear, mob rule and collectivism, something they simply mistrust liberals as opposing in principle. In this they exploit the gravest fears of the most modest of the better off, that their modest comforts and positions will be stolen by a mob. It's sad really. Principles of law and fairness were inventions of liberal minds. Justice is a liberal concept. It's pathetic not to trust the belief system, progressivism, that was the foundation of our own Constitution.

Now the conservative voting base is looking for a candidate that can perfectly reveal the most vicious of conservative agendas and still get elected. They are looking for the one person in a universe of conservatives that can convince a fundamentally humane world that conservative values are not inhumane. The more bloody a spectacle that is, the better off we are, all. In this process they reveal themselves.

The only reason Reagan was able to recalibrate the public perception of conservative was because he hid the conservative intention extremely well. He had plucked an obscure and reasonable sounding but brutally radical subdomain of conservatism out of Ayn Rand's obscure novels and put a happy face on it. We are living the consequences of "trickle down". Bush 43 ran as a "compassionate conservative." How telling is that of the conservative's own self assessment?

Not Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, not any host of protest tradition artists could have put the point more currently and more ably than did Clint on this last national peri-holiday halftime, and reach more people at once than the president. We can do this, he said. We can come out in the second half and win as a team. Conservatives are not interested in helping the team, but just in helping themselves. Time to bench all the defeatist diva GOP and get someone on the field that will advance the ball for the American team.