Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be

Chrysler Gives the Bird to the Elephant; Myth Busting ‘Declining America’

Chrysler, in its Phoenix like ascension from the ashes of Old Detroit, has branded its survival story as the modern American narrative, the pulse of 2012 America. In its Clint Eastwood Super Bowl ad, “halftime,” it gives President Obama the pitch his campaign has been trying to crystallize, and tosses a defiant, skyward middle finger at Mitt “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” Romney and the GOP.

Romney, you may recall, wrote the op-ed in, of all places, the sinfully ‘liberal’ New York Times entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

“IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”

Of course, Mittstradamus  was not the greatest prognosticator.  The Christian Science Monitor reports:

“General Motors Co. has retaken the title of world’s top-selling automaker, selling just over 9 million cars and trucks across the globe.

“The company said Thursday that it sold 9.03 million vehicles worldwide last year, up 7.6 percent from 2010. That’s more than 1 million better than Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp., which took the title away from GM in 2008.”

Ford and Chrysler are doing well too.  It could be that Mitt’s father, an auto man when he wasn’t running for office took over the struggling American Motors and kept it struggling for a few more years until it failed.  It’s that deep-seeded understanding of great management that probably sent the Mittster into corporate raiding, which is far more profitable and doesn’t require one to sully their hands hiring people to ‘make’ things.

Super Bowl ads run from the brilliant to the campy to the downright stupid. They are seldom political.  Yet the media stream was positively on fire yesterday when Karl Rove and other cheerleaders of the Far Right cried foul when Actor/Director/Tough Guy Clint Eastwood, who stood as an apostle of the Republican Jesus, Ronald Reagan, went all Judas on them:

They went modestly political last year with their survivor story on the Superbowl sporting the brash Eminem theme music and the tough “Made in America” posturing.

The 2012 model, produced by Portland, Oregon-based Wieden + Kennedy, is one of the best crafted ads for the superbowl since the famed Ridley Scott “1984” ad for Apple that launched the Super Bowl ad craze.

It is unprecedented for American car manufacturer.  It deftly crafts Chrysler’s survivor story message with a big Detroit middle finger aimed at the Republicans, who, along with Romney, were advocating the demise of these companies.

Rove and the Right Wing spin machine are a little touchy because it’s hard to be called out during an election year, in the middle of one of the most watched sports spectacles on television, for wanting to add millions more unemployed to the roles (Estimates of the unemployment with the shutdown of the auto industry went into the Great Depression range of 21-25%) , and hundreds of thousands of seniors left penniless without their pensions.

Eastwood, the iconic iconoclastic figure of tough guy America, suggesting that we’re only half-way there, and clearly implying that the Obama Administration still has work to do. The photos not of the White America that Rove and his pals defend, but of the multicultural, “big tent” America which Mr. Obama has been preaching about since he took office.

It crystallized, in a matter of seconds, the struggle, the character of the American spirit, and the value of the President’s message of bringing all Americans into the process of working together.  It unwound weeks and months of fear-based ads that the big oil-backing of the Koch brothers and the other members of the Dead Billionaires Club have been splashing all over the airwaves to manipulate voters into doing their bidding.

More important, it blew a big hole in the GOP’s narrative about “declining America” which Romney and the remaining seven political dwarves have been peddling on the campaign trail.

The Chrysler ad contrasted sharply with another made-in-Michigan political ad run statewide during the Super Bowl by Republican Pete Hoekstra, who is challenging incumbend Senator Debbie Stabenow (D), that backfired like a used Yugo:

Hoekstra pulled this old chestnut out of the GOP “Scare America To Victory” playbook.  The problem is that, appealing to Right wingers xenophobia overall, white collar debt freaks, and blue collar Righties fear of losing their jobs to China just doesn’t hold up with the facts.

How much U.S. Treasury debt do all foreign countries hold? $4.5T  out of $14.3T as of May 2011, or 31.5% of our debt. Asia as a whole holds $3T of that.  China?  They have about $1.3T in .  Japan, which used to be our foreign bogeyman, holds about $1T. [1] So China holds only about 9% of our debt.  Not small, but hardly worthy of fear commercials like this:

The relationship with these countries, and the debt they hold, actually give them some incentive to make sure that we prosper. It’s a concept that even the most die-hard of Teahadis can grasp: They lose more if we can’t pay.

The GOP has also been a bit shy about discussing are manufacturing numbers, probably because they’re up, which debunks their anxiety-inducing agenda.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

“U.S. manufacturing, viewed as a lost cause by many Americans, has begun creating more jobs than it eliminates for the first time in more than a decade.”

Manufacturing hiring is up as well.

That won’t keep the GOP from trying to peddle doom and gloom to that segment of old school White America which already sees a black president as proof of our decline, or Americans who are easily influenced by the Dead Billionaires Club hype machine of Astroturf grass roots groups putting every bit of fear they can muster into their television sets and mailboxes.

The real question is: Can the Obama Administration do as good of a job at selling itself and every legitimate sign of a long, slow, yet rising recovery as Chrysler did?  Which embodies the “American Dream” more?  A corporate raider and trust-funder who has two opinions for every subject, who talks hard right fiscal restraint yet has never demonstrated a plan that can pull it off, or a man who promised us a Grown-up in Chief, who has patiently, sometimes too patiently, walked the walk of trying to get us all together and move the nation forward out of one of its darkest economic chapters?

The data supports Mr. Obama.  In spite of the daily Fox News propaganda buzz bombs, if you don’t see too many bread lines, Bushville encampments of the homeless, and cheery talk about unemployment finally dropping to 22%, thank the man who made the right calls about the Auto Industry and, flawed as they were, the bailout because you don’t have the deep, deep Depression that Hoover and these people funding the Far Right could have caused.

Had it been up to Mr. Romney, Detroit would be dead, and its corpse would have dragged the rest of us down with it into a world-wide Depression.

It’s not about the facts though. It’s about perception.

Maybe the Obama Campaign should be on the phone with Wieden + Kennedy.

My shiny two.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian, filmmaker and chef. Ad hoc, ad loc, quid pro quo... so little time. So much to know!

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