Following up on a segment from last night's show, if yesterday was any indication, it might be a while before the right stops complaining about Chrysler's Super Bowl ad.
Karl Rove seems to be leading the charge, telling Fox News he was "offended" by the commercial, adding, "This is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics." The complaints were part of a larger "conservative outcry" in response to the spot.
But the thematic issue is just as interesting. At a visceral level, we know exactly why the Chrysler commercial rankled the right -- it told Americans to start feeling optimistic again.
We've reached a very strange point in the national discourse. Nine months before the election, many Republicans have adopted the line that hope itself is now partisan, and those sounding encouraging notes should be assumed to be partisan players. Stephen Colbert made famous the adage that "reality has a well know liberal bias," but we now have a revised maxim for 2012: Optimism has a well known liberal bias, too.
For Rove and his allies, Chrysler wants Americans to feel good about the future because it represents a form of political payback. That's nonsense -- Chrysler wants consumers to feel optimistic so they'll buy cars.
The complaints themselves are telling. The right is so invested in its message -- America is in decline, our best days are over, abandon all hope -- that the very idea of optimism is quite literally offensive.
"This country can't be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines." What does it say about the Republican message of 2012 when they hear this, shriek, and reach for the panic button?