Karl Rove, like many of his type, can't stand the morning sun. As America brightens up, as the economic news gets better, Karl gets a little cranky. Nothing else can explain his attack on fellow Republican Clint Eastwood, the former elected mayor of Carmel, California. On Sunday Clint growled his way through a Chrysler Super Bowl ad, which picks up on Ronald Reagan's famous "It's Morning Again In America" commercial of 1984. Clint tells us it's "Halftime In America" because Chrysler has rebounded big time from its near-death experience of 2009, only because of Obama's loan program ("bailout" in Rove-speak).
No good, says Karl, it's a corporate plot to re-elect Obama:
The leadership of auto companies feel they need to do something to repay their political patronage. It is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.
That's as close to an anti-American outburst as we've ever heard from the patron saint of the "liberals are traitors" crowd. It's emblematic of the corner that the hard right has painted itself into. Any good news about the health of our economy, or successful government activity, runs smack dab into the gloom-and-doom narrative they've adopted for 2012. The economy is crippled, the loan programs are socialism, there are no new jobs on the horizon and so on.
It's been a bad week for the "Obama's-a-failed-anti-American-socialist" story. A stunningly good jobs report left the Rove-ites groping for a message. And as Mitt bumbles his way to becoming the nominee of the 1%ers in the Republican Party, the Eastwood ad was the last straw: Rove lost his cool.
It's getting clearer and clearer that the Republicans have mistimed the whole election. They haven't bothered to come up with a coherent economic message, sticking with a Herbert Hoover austerity message that would, if implemented, crush the budding recovery. They've opposed the extension of the quintessential middle class tax cut. Their only message was how awful, illegitimate and anti-American is Obama, and now they've blundered into that unforgivable sin, pessimism and gloominess. They've forgotten the great lesson that Reagan taught anyone willing to learn: The candidate with the most optimism wins presidential races.
Meanwhile Obama is basking in that same sunlit recovery that aggravates Karl. Obama understands the political consequences of his successful fight to save the American car industry. It's a symbol across the nation of the decisions he made against strong Republican opposition, and it's political gold in the Rust Belt swing states. Chrysler repaid the loans with interest, unemployment is trending down in Michigan and Ohio, Chrysler will make billions this year, it's all good.
Attacking Clint is a mistake wrapped in irony. He was strongly opposed to the loan program back when: "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." Standard Republican rhetoric, even if inadequate to the crisis. But Clint is more than an ideological fellow-traveler. He is the macho, tough-minded American male, scarred and unafraid, protecting his family and country. These guys are not expected to say nice things about Obama. If Clint is capable of this heresy, well it could spread to millions of others.
C'mon Karl. Trust the people to figure it out. The "bailout" worked. It saved tens of thousands of jobs, saved tens of thousands of American families from scarcity and despair, saved the American car industry and made an economic recovery more likely. Admit it. Man up. Make my day.