Just about everybody in the political world is scratching their heads today after seeing that terrific TV commercial featuring iconic actor/director Clint Eastwood, 81, during the Super Bowl.
In the ad, Eastwood offers a patriotic pep talk about "halftime in America," portraying the revival of Chrysler and other Detroit auto makers as a model for a new American resurgence.
It may have been intended as nothing more than that, but the political overtones, intentional or otherwise, were obvious.
"Halftime in America" could be interpreted (and is being interpreted by many conservatives/Republicans and liberals/Democrats) as a rallying call for a second term for President Barack Obama, who pushed ahead with a bailout of Chrysler and General Motors despite opposition from Republicans like Mitt Romney, his likely 2012 opponent.
That's where the confusion starts. Just last November, a few short three months ago, Eastwood told the Los Angeles Times, "We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies. If a CEO can’t figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn’t be the CEO.”
In addition, Eastwood is reportedly a lifelong Republican. He can't even recall voting for a Democrat for president and did support John McCain in 2008 against Obama.
But Eastwood told USA Weekend in 2004 that he doesn't see himself as conservative.
"I like the libertarian view, which is to leave everyone alone. Even as a kid, I was annoyed by people who wanted to tell everyone how to live."
So would Eastwood be more like a free-market Ron Paul-type Republican?
In a fascinating and yet frustratingly vague interview posted with The Daily Caller on Feb. 1, 2012 (just a few days before the Super Bowl), Eastwood said Paul is "as good as anybody else" in the GOP presidential race but that he will decide on a candidate in another month or two after "listening to all that crap on television."
Eastwood also denied that he was "not a fan" of President Barack Obama.
"I didn’t say I wasn’t a fan of his, I said I thought he was a pretty good guy. At least he seems to be — I never met him. I just thought that we need that a president, in my opinion, needs to spend more time governing and less time with other things instead of just campaigning, I guess," Eastwood said.
Could Eastwood even be an outright liberal? He probably wouldn't like that label, but perhaps it fits his art. David E. Phillips of Addicting Info makes a very strong case that Eastwood's films of the past 25 years have dealt with three liberal themes: racism, feminism, and the futility of violence.
Lessons here? Slapping a political label on Clint Eastwood is about as reckless as pointing a loaded gun at Dirty Harry. But go ahead, make his day!
Note: Ed will have much more on the Eastwood "It's halftime in America" ad including reaction from United Auto Workers President Bob King and Michigan Rep. Gary Peters, tonight on The Ed Show at 8pET on msnbc.