You have to hand it to the Republican Party: It not only seems incapable of turning the other cheek, but habitually makes matters worse when a little controversy crosses its path.
The latest little controversy is a Chrysler Corporation ad titled “It’s Halftime in America” aired during Super Bowl on Sunday evening. The ad, rather drearily uninventive as were most this year, featured Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood extolling the success of the Bush and Obama administration-engineered bailout that saved the asses of Chrysler and General Motors although neither president was mentioned by name.
Rather than turning the other cheek, Republicans have asserted that the commercial with its unabashedly populist message could pass for an Obama re-election ad, besides which all four remaining presidential candidates opposed the bailouts.
The bloviater in chief this time around has been Kark Rove.
Rove, who has nibbled down all of his finger and toenails to nubs because his GOP has deftly turned a good shot at recapturing the White House and Senate into a long shot in part because the kind of bare-knuckle politics and right-wing ass kissing that he espoused, told Fox News that:
“This [ad] is a sign of what happens when you have the government getting in bed with big business like the bailout of the auto companies. They begin to, the leadership of the auto companies feel they need to do something to repay their political patrons. Remember, we lost $1.8 billion as taxpayers on the government bailout of Chrysler, and we’re going to lose $14 billion in the bailout of Chrysler and General Motors. And you got to bet in the boardrooms and management suites of these two big car companies, they are saying to themselves, ‘Look, the president bailed us out rather than making us go through the normal bankruptcy, he bailed us out. We’re going to end up not having to pay back this money to the taxpayers.’ ”
Rove, of course, is one of the most adept obfuscaters in contemporary politics, and Stanley Blow does a masterful job of taking him apart in a New York Times column:
* The overall bailouts saved an estimated 1.14 million jobs.
* It was George W. Bush who signed the first Chrysler bailout check.
* Of the total of $14.5 billion loaned to Chrysler, the company has returned $11.5 billion to taxpayers.
* The government has sold its Chrysler stock, further limiting taxpayer exposure.
* Trying to eschew Bush’s role in order to tarnish Obama’s results is fundamentally dishonest.
* Eastwood, of course, is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican whom Bush’s father, George H.W., considered as a running mate in 1988.
One would think that with Michigan being a crucial swing state, Republicans would want to move the conversation as far away from the bailouts as possible, especially because Romney — who has been accurately portrayed as a grim reaper when it comes to jobs — has been especially vociferous in opposing them.
Blow concludes by saying, “Oh, Karl. That thing slapping you in the face is called the truth. As Clint Eastwood might say, ‘Get off my lawn.’ ”
But it was Ta-Nehisi Coates who had the best line: “When Republicans line up against Clint Eastwood and cars, one has to ask, ‘What could they possibly be for?’ Child labor? Charters for blah people? Midnight Basketball?”