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Halftime in America

Make his day: Conservatives attack Republican icon Clint Eastwood for Chrysler Super Bowl ad

Sunday night, I wondered how long it would take before some conservatives started complaining that Clint Eastwood's "Halftime in America" Super Bowl ad for Chrysler played too much like... like... well, like a thank-you shout-out to Barack Obama for the auto industry bailout.

Well, as it turned out, Michelle Malkin didn't wait until the end of The Big Game before Tweeting her disapproval.

And Monday morning, Marketwatch reported a snippy reaction from David Limbaugh, a conservative writer who, as I understand it, is to his older brother Rush what Frank Stallone is to his brother Sylvester: “I think Clint Eastwood’s credentials as a conservative have been overrated for some time."

 Eastwood has not officially responded to the controversy — yet — but given his history as a political maverick, I am certain he will say something that will not entirely please folks on either side of the political divide. (And good for him.) 

As Monday proceeded apace, there were reports that the ad itself had been removed from YouTube after NFL reps complained about an alleged copyright violation. No joke: The NFL bigwigs allegedly insisted that any ad using the term "Halftime in America" would be verboten simply because the NFL claims all rights to the term "Halftime."

This may or not be true — after all, we're talking about an organization that doesn't allow free use of the term "Super Bowl" in non-approved advertising — but in any event, cooler heads prevailed, and the spot is back on view at You Tube.

And, trust me, not everybody is happy about that. As reported on Chris Cillizza's The Fix blog, Karl Rove (a.k.a. Bush's Brain) views as the ad as nothing less than -- are you ready for this? are you sitting down? — propaganda approved by the Obama re-election campaign:

I was, frankly, offended by it it,” said Karl Rove on Fox News Monday. "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.”

Meanwhile, left-leaning commentators could barely contain their glee. Over at the Daily Kos site, writer Laura Clawson took a tongue-in-cheeky approach to parsing Rove's comments for deeper meaning. ("It's not clear whether Rove is implying that Obama saved Chrysler in 2009 in order to get a 2012 Super Bowl ad that some would interpret as positive about him, or that Obama actually called up Chrysler and demanded the ad, but whatever.")

And Michael Moore — yes, that Michael Moore — Tweeted a thank-you to Clint Eastwood for what Moore sees as Eastwood's ringing endorsement for President Obama's re-election: “Your sermon seemed 2 b a call 2 give O his ‘second half.’”

Eastwood has not officially responded to the controversy — yet — but given his history as a political maverick, I am certain he will say something that will not entirely please folks on either side of the political divide. (And good for him.)

I also have no doubt that, right now, someone somewhere is planning to take a publicity shot of Clint Eastwood from some movie, and Photoshop onto the superstar an "Obama 2012" T-shirt. Might I humbly suggest a photo of Eastwood from True Crime, his under-rated 1999 drama? You know, the one with the unmistakable anti-capital punishment message?

Here's the Chrysler ad: What do you think?

Joe Leydon covers movies at MovingPictureBlog.

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