Finally saw the Clint Eastwood “Halftime in America” Super Bowl ad that was ostensibly for Chrysler–and yes, it is an advertisement for President Obama.    

In the highly improbable event that it wasn’t intended as an artsy, election-year plug for President Obama, somebody at Chrysler should have realized that this is what it comes across as and stopped it. Some of us, in fact, hope it’s way beyond halftime in America for the policies that have brought us the slowest economic revival since after the Romans poured salt on the ground in Carthage.   

 One of the most interesting things Eastwood, who is ostensibly a Republican, said in justifying the ad, whose production qualities are not in doubt, is that the noble folks at Chrysler didn’t even put any of their cars in the ad. Fancy that! I guess in the world of post-modern advertising, you don’t do anything so vulgar as advertise a product?

Well, instead of sending Valentines to the president, Chrysler had better hop to it and advertise and sell those vulgar cars because I don’t think the American people have another bailout in them. Indeed, if Chrysler had been so mundane as to have advertised their cars, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

In the ad, Mr.Eastwood said that the people of America are hurting now, adding “the people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now, Motor City is fighting again.”

Does “we pulled together” refer to a bailout that preserved the vast power of unions (a source of the industry’s financial woes in the first place) and rewrote American bankruptcy law without benefit of lawmakers?

Rich Lowry’s column today (“Half-baked in America”) also explores the ramifications of the  “we pulled together” meme:

We pulled together? As euphemism, this is clever; as history, it is false. Congress never approved the bailouts. Given the option to do so explicitly, it declined. The Bush and Obama administrations acted on their own, diverting TARP funds to Detroit regardless of the letter of the law. In Eastwood’s telling, a legally dubious act of executive highhandedness qualifies as patriotic collective action.

By this standard, any initiative of government must be a stirring exercise in people’s power. Remember when we all pulled together to back the solar-panel maker Solyndra to the tune of $500 million? Right now, we are all pulling together to try to force Catholic institutions to pay for contraceptives and morning-after abortifacients for their employees.

See? There’s nothing we can’t do — together.

What should have happened with Chrysler?

What Chrysler and GM desperately needed in their extremity was to go through Chapter 11 reorganization to pare down wages and benefits, shed uneconomical dealerships and ditch unnecessary brands.

Chrysler, by the way, isn’t really an American company anymore—nearly 60 percent is owned by Fiat. Oh, and the scenes of a reviving Detroit? Shot in New Orleans.

This ad was a total honesty malfunction.