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Clint, Rick and the Limits of Pessimism

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Posted on Feb 9, 2012
The Huffington Post

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

What do Rick Santorum and Clint Eastwood have in common?

Sorry Rick, you haven’t made it yet as an Eastwood-style make-my-day cultural icon. But in different ways, Santorum and Eastwood have demonstrated the limits of both an entirely negative slant on politics and a pessimistic take on America’s future.

Santorum’s Tuesday sweep of Republican presidential contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado was a sharp rebuke to Mitt Romney, the on-again, off-again “inevitable” GOP nominee who has built his campaign almost entirely on attacks. His primary target has been President Obama, but Romney has also been relentless in his assaults on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who admittedly gives him a lot of material to work with.

What Romney has failed to do is give voters strong reasons to be for him. He’s missing what Richard Nixon (yes, that Nixon) called “the lift of a driving dream.” And signs of economic improvement are making Romney’s critiques of the Obama economy more problematic by the week. In the meantime, Santorum keeps getting more appealing simply by staying out of the Romney-Gingrich slugfest.

As for Eastwood, his Super Bowl ad for Chrysler led many conservatives to reveal themselves as whiny complainers incapable of celebrating the achievements of American enterprise and public policy. To paraphrase the late Jeane Kirkpatrick’s effective 1984 jab at Democrats, Republicans always blame American government first. If government (and, God forbid, Obama) had anything to do with the revival of the American auto industry, let’s not dare be happy about its comeback.

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Never mind that Eastwood was right to offer his lovely tribute to American resilience. “It seems that we’ve lost our heart at times,” Eastwood said. “The fog of division, discord and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead. But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right and acted as one. Because that’s what we do. We find a way through tough times, and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one.”

This is a partisan message only if one party embraces the role of advocating “division, discord and blame.” And, bless him, that’s exactly what Karl Rove chose to do. He grumbled on Fox News that the ad was “a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising and the best-wishes of the management which has benefited by getting a bunch of our money that they’ll never pay back.”

Let’s put aside that most of the money from the Chrysler bailout has already been paid back, and that the initial loan to Chrysler was advanced by the Bush administration for which Rove once worked. Rove’s normally sharp political instincts failed him here. Why not celebrate Detroit’s resurgence as an American victory and move on?

That’s what Rove’s Fox colleague Bill O’Reilly did, arguing that Eastwood was “trying to get Americans saying ‘we’re coming back, we’re gonna rally around, we’ve got bad times, we’ll work our way out of it like we’ve always done.’” It’s not my habit to agree with O’Reilly, but good for him for recognizing that maybe it is morning in America, or at least the end of a long, dark night. You don’t have to be for Obama to feel good about that.

Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all understood that Americans prefer hope and optimism to gloomy declarations of impending doom. Why would Romney and so many in his party want to be the doom guys?

Romney’s problem is that he is caught in a cycle he can’t seem to escape. Santorum’s victories this week reflect Romney’s ongoing problems with the right wing of the Republican Party. Romney’s solution is to keep trying to win conservative hearts by bashing Obama ever more energetically. His speech after his defeats on Tuesday thus began with a litany of the president’s failures. Romney only got to more hopeful talk toward the end by invoking his father, the former Michigan governor who was indeed an admirable man.

But Romney can’t summon hope through his dad. He has to offer it himself. Yet his strategy seems to require a constant doubling down on glumness.

Clint Eastwood knows better, and so did Reagan. Romney should not want to be associated with salvos against Obama so repetitious and predictable that he is starting to conjure memories of the Gipper declaring: “There you go again.”


E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2012, Washington Post Writers Group


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By terry p, February 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By vector56, February 9 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

“Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all understood that Americans prefer hope and optimism to gloomy declarations of impending doom. “

FDR delivered substance (“the New Deal”) with his “fire side chats”; Obama seems to deliver, but mostly for the Banks (his latest grant of immunity); the Telecoms (retro-active immunity); Big Pharma and Health Insurance Companies (ObamaCare) the Oil Companies (off shore drilling)......

Obama once declared Ronald Reagan to be “one of his heroes”; this might shed light on his “trickle down” tactics when it comes to wealth distribution.

In the end it all comes down to NAFTA and the WTO! All the “feel good” propaganda (private or public) won’t bring back our manufacturing base.

——————————

It seems you could have stopped here instead of debating about famous lines in a movie. Who gives a shit what an actor say’s during a commercial or in a movie? Eastwood is only an actor who plays parts in movies reciting lines written by someone else(much like a politician come to think of it). But, if a bigot gets off on a fictional character, he is the one with the problem. 

Even though race is a problem it isn’t the issue we need to focus on to get our economy on the right track which I believe should be for the people not the tycoons. Your comment above is right on.

An icon like Clint Eastwood only serves as a cheerleader for the banksters who should be either serving time or waiting trial for ripping our economy to shreds. Until we deal with those criminals we’ll always be picking up the pieces after they’ve shredded everything again and again. The crooked banksters either profit and/or we pay their bills. 

We need to find a replacement for Obama not because Obama is black but because he didn’t do the job for the people. He did it for the tycoons. 

I don’t think Rick Santorum and Clint Eastwood have anything in common nor do I think either could replace Obama.

Read “The Web of Debt” to get a handle on the problem and the solution - which is that we should take our Nations Banking System out of the hands of the crooks by Nationalizing The 12 Federal Reserve Banks along with all the Banks that are too big to fail and prosecute their executives who commit fraud ‘’ thinking’’ they’re two big to jail as a strategy for business as usual.

tp:?)

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By ssg13565, February 12, 2012 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

@vector56,

I stand corrected.

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, February 12, 2012 at 8:47 am Link to this comment

Clint Eastwood’s movie Grand Torino, is a metaphor of what is happening to the
city of Detroit.

Mr. Eastwood plays a retired auto worker, who lovingly cares for a Grand Torino.
The Car is in mint condition. Estranged from his family, he discovers that he is
dying of cancer.

Partly to fill the emotional void in his life, between endless cans of beer, he strikes
up a relationship with an immigrant Asian family next door, and bonds with a
young Asian man, who lacks a paternal role model.  Putting aside his issues with
his neighborhood, that’s becoming totally Asian, he begins developmental work on
the young man.

However, a local Asian gang is trying to jump Clint’s protege in, and threatens all
of Mr. Eastwood’s attempts at passing on the emotional values of a retired author
worker.

Issues between the gang and Clint’s protege escalates, after the protege’s sister is
attacked by the gang, and the protege is beaten up.

Mr. Eastwood, then confronts the gang knowing that they will kill him, but that
they will be arrested for his murder. 

He in effect commits suicide, so as to avoid dying of Cancer, and leaves his car to
his protege, as a slap on the face to his family who obviously do not appreciate it,
in the way Mr. Eastwood’s character wants.

So that’s what we have done, Detroit is dying of cancer, and since we, the new
generation of American’s don’t appreciate the values that made Detroit what it is, 
we are better off outsourcing Detroit to someone else. And as long as they have
adopted our old fashioned values, it doesn’t matter who or where they are.

Good work Mr.Eastwood.  I’m sure globalists everywhere will cheer this movie.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, February 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm Link to this comment

Maani:

“Vector:

You’ve got issues. LOL. Yes, the “punk” Dirty Harry says his famous line to is Black. “

Agreed, I do have “issues”, but this is not one of them.

Dirty Harry “Mighty White of you!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNiAOSKFNR4

Again I submit the other two clips:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maBJzJgYjto

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoXDzsuqXFg


Most white males seem to not see racism unless the “N” word is used?  Eastwood blew a very loud “Dog Whistle”.

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By Maani, February 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

Vector:

You’ve got issues. LOL. Yes, the “punk” Dirty Harry says his famous line to is Black.  However, except for that one tangential robbery scene, everything else in the movie - rapes, murders, etc. - is done by WHITE men (and the primary villain is White).  And the same goes for the sequels.  In fact, some people thought the Dirty Harry series was racist because it did not have ENOUGH actors of color!

Peace.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, February 10, 2012 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

Responding to “ssg13565” ‘s comment below:

“I don’t remember the “make my day punk” being black.  Am I just color blind or are you hyper color imaginative? “

Watch these two “Dirty Harry” Clips and Judge for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maBJzJgYjto


This is the full “unsanitized” version of “Make my day”. Notice the two dimensional Black men he kills; if you pay close attention you will even hear one of the Stereo-typical Black men threaten to sexually assault a White woman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoXDzsuqXFg


Ronald Reagan Used Eastwood’s “Make my day” to send the same “not so subtle “dog whistle message as he did with the “Welfare Queen”. Most of the clip have been “cleaned” up and the Black people edited out these days.

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By vector56, February 9, 2012 at 8:33 pm Link to this comment

Dionne involked FDR which got me thinking:

“Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all understood that Americans prefer hope and optimism to gloomy declarations of impending doom. Why would Romney and so many in his party want to be the doom guys? “

Years ago the Heritage Foundation dreamed up a scheme as a back door method to defund Social Security. The Republicans called this scam a “Pay Roll Tax Holiday”.  The plan was to bleed off funds from Social Security turning it into a “welfare entitlement” which would allow it to be killed off or privatized at a later date.

Republicans faced an uphill battle due to their past reputation concerning Social Security. Obama twice tried to put SS on the table to negotiate away; now it would seem he has pulled an old Heritage Foundation trick out of his hat and with cover and help of fake liberals at MSNBC and Current he is pulling it off.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, February 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

“Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all understood that Americans prefer hope and optimism to gloomy declarations of impending doom. “

FDR delivered substance (“the New Deal”) with his “fire side chats”; Obama seems to deliver, but mostly for the Banks (his latest grant of immunity); the Telecoms (retro-active immunity); Big Pharma and Health Insurance Companies (ObamaCare) the Oil Companies (off shore drilling)......

Obama once declared Ronald Reagan to be “one of his heroes”; this might shed light on his “trickle down” tactics when it comes to wealth distribution.

In the end it all comes down to NAFTA and the WTO! All the “feel good” propaganda (private or public) won’t bring back our manufacturing base.

Report this

By Ehrenstein, February 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

Clint has always been an Old-Fashioned Republican __ completely straightforward and not interested in demonizing anyone.

In today’s Republican party that makes him George Clooney.

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By ssg13565, February 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

“As far as Eastwood being a racist, go back and look at the clips from “Dirty Harry”; 90% of the time he points is big phallic symbol in the faces of terrified Black men asking if “you feel lucky punk”, or “make my day”! “

I don’t remember the “make my day punk” being black.  Am I just color blind or are you hyper color imaginative?

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By prisnersdilema, February 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Maybe Republicans would be happier of Obama hadn’t bailed out GM?

Still it’s easy for Republicans to make believe that they could do a better job of
running things as long as the public doesn’t remind them that it was Republican
economic policies, enabled by the Democrats that got us here.

Then, also there was GM’s outsourcing of production.

I knew GM was done for when, they had to go into the loan business because it’s
working class customers could no longer afford the cars GM produced.

I would love to hear Mr. Eastwoods plan for stopping the city of Detroit from
becoming a no mans land owned and operated by gang lords, and their armies of
desperate criminals. If any third world country sorely needs a Marine occupation it
would be Detroit, maybe that would prevent the spread of what is happening there
to there rest of the rust belt. 

Acting tough and being tough are too different things, but being tough doesn’t
work really well when it comes to healing the misery that has been inflicted upon
the people of Detroit. 

It’s like telling someone who is dying of cancer, to buck up and stop acting like a
pussy.

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By poodfreemon, February 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am enjoying the controversy over the General Motors pep talk, “It’s Halftime in America.” I do not think that either General Motors or Clint Eastwood was endorsing Obama. I think Clint Eastwood (playing a combination of the Man with No Name, Dirty Harry and Walt Kowalski) was telling all of us… and that includes all government and corporate leaders and lackeys… to stop the divisive whining and subterfuge and let’s get on with the task of fixing this country, together.

As an example of the success that comes when we work together, GM used Detroit’s nascent comeback. Bush and Obama chose to bail out the car industry, and that strategy, so far, has succeeded. When Eastwood said, “It’s halftime in America,” I don’t think he was cleverly endorsing support for another four years of Obama. It doesn’t have to be Obama at quarterback. We (the people)... every one of us, no matter who is president…still have to play the second half, pushing onward toward full economic recovery. I think Clint Eastwood’s take-home message was… Don’t forget who were are, as Americans. We might get knocked down, but we get right back up.

‘We’ is a very important American word. Maybe, right now, ‘we’ is our most important American word.

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By vector56, February 9, 2012 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

No offense to Dionne; the post is well written and somewhat positive, but unrealistic. Years ago I learn (in a marketing class)that if you can’t improve a product, change (improve) the packaging. It would seem that we have moved into the “Frank Luntz Zone” where substance is replace by Slogans and Repetition!

Operation Iraqi Freedom
The Patriot Act
The Affordable Care Act
TARP

Both the Republicans and Democrats hide behind bumper sticker slogans that sound “populous” but end up serving the needs of their corporate masters. GM (after the bail out) has created far more jobs over seas then they have domestically. Chrysler is 58% 0wned by Fiat; after bailing out foreign Banks and Insurance companies (AIG)some on the left might think that Eastwood propaganda for Chrysler would be an insult to out intelligence.

As long as Fox Conn , GM, Chrysler, can find poor souls who can be used at 35 cents per hour, our manufacturing base (like the price of oil) will always be headed in one direction. 

As far as Eastwood being a racist, go back and look at the clips from “Dirty Harry”; 90% of the time he points is big phallic symbol in the faces of terrified Black men asking if “you feel lucky punk”, or “make my day”!

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By balkas, February 9, 2012 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

elroy, thanks for your question. i wonder, tho, if i understood it as you have. but regardless of any
[mis]understandings, i do not approve of any pieces that [un]knowingly skirt the FISRST CAUSE for
ills that befall us on interpersonal and int’l levels.
and i do not read pieces or posts that praise/blame individuals or write what they say or do.
everything is caused. individual thinking doing is also caused; however, such phenomena are mere
symptoms or effects of the FIRSTS CAUSE or a disease i call personal supremacism.

as for eastwood, i’d violate my principle to never blame/praise any individual or dwell on what s/he
does or says. that’s gossipy, nurturing cult of the personality, etc., so i am not saying anything about
obama, gingrich, eastwood… thanks

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By vector56, February 9, 2012 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

Ironic that after Rawhide, Eastwood left America to bring his carrier back from the dead by make “Spaghetti Westerns” in Italy. As I recall; during his “Dirty Harry” phase, he spent most of his time pointing a gun in the faces of two dimensional caricatures of Black men asking them “you feel lucky punk?” Eastwood is and was a racist (to use his favorite word) “punk” who made a commercial for a company that is 58% foreign owned (Chrysler). About 90% of the time, “Dirty Harry” was pointing his “Big Gun” in the faces of Black Men (who played two dimensional stereo types)humiliating them while “putting them in their place. White America “ate it up” then and now.  The “fake left” (MSNB, Current TV) are trying to spin this as a “pro-Obama” piece of propaganda; in reality, this is nothing more than Eastwood working for a French company (Fiat) tricking America into believing our manufacturing base will ever return!

As far as loaning the Auto companies “tax payer” money; in order to get this money, the unions had bend over backward multiple times for their members to keep their jobs. What the corporate media does not tell you is that GM (since the bail-out-loan) has created far more jobs over seas then they have domestically!

Eastwood may inspire those who over look the facts to dwell in the land of “feel good” macho white male”, in the end we are all being played for “suckers”, by the Republicans, Obama, the Democrats, the Corporate media…

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By Elroy, February 9, 2012 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

balkas - 6.43.  I may be wrong, but I detect that you
don’t think Dionne should see Clint Eastwood’s positive
attitude in a favorable light. If so, why?

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By balkas, February 9, 2012 at 7:43 am Link to this comment

another of dionne’s [and don’t let me go at romney, santorum, gingrich] show-up-
and-don’t-tell shows. am i paying attention to that show? no, not a bit. but i do
see, to my displeasure, headlines about the IT; the OGRISH IT.
so, i boycott all movies, politicians in US, churches, magazines,
tv/paper/magazine news or scribblings, sports, any award show…
but, no, i cannot avoid watching tv bulshitos. for one thing, my wife made me
bring it into the bedroom…and i want to stay married… thanks

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By Dr Bones, February 9, 2012 at 5:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Stupid ad to sell Chrysler gas guzzlers.  They still pretend global warming is not occurring.

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