Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Clint Eastwood tells Chrysler's Lies to America
Oh, last week was a fantastic week in our fair city! The Super Bowl excitement was infectious. The zip line, the concerts, the celebrities... I found myself tuning into the local news (which I normally find too depressing to watch) a couple of times a day just to see what was happening in downtown's Super Bowl Village and what the visitor's from out of state were saying about Indy. Though I heard it was very accessible, I didn't venture downtown to experience the festivities first hand. I simply had no interest in dealing with the crowds, but everyday the weather here became more beautiful than the day before (normally during this time of year each day in Indianapolis just gets colder and nastier than the next) and it was as if God himself had a stake in Indianapolis' success at presenting the best Super Bowl ever!
Of course, on game night I was routing for the Giant's. I'm not a fan of the Patriot's, their Coach, or their Quarterback, and after the week we had, I just couldn't see fate allowing them to win the first Super Bowl hosted by our town. I enjoyed the first half and, even though the Giant's were down by 1 going into half time, I knew they would win and I was in a happy place, sharing this great game with some of my closest friends in my home. Then it happened. The unexpected slap in the face that was delivered by Dirty Harry himself, right in my own living room!
As the Halftime in America ad began, I found myself listening to Clint Eastwood's words and liking the message. Then I realized that he was promoting Chrysler and holding them up as a beacon of hope for our country. What he says in the ad is "It's halftime. Both teams are in their locker room discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half. It's halftime in America too. People are out of work and they're hurting, and they're all wondering what they can do to make a comeback. And we're all scared because this isn't a game. 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. I've seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life, times when we didn't understand each other. It seems that we've lost our heart at times. 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 our way through tough times and if we can't find a way, then we'll make one. All that matters now is what's ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And how do we win? Detroit's showing us it can be done. And what's true about them is true about all of us. This country can't be knocked out with one punch. We get back up again, and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, it's halftime America, and our second half's about to begin." The ad ends with the words IMPORTED FROM DETROIT and the logos for Ram, Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler on the screen.
The message is beautiful and inspiring, filled with themes that people in this country need to embrace. Unfortunately, the fact that it's an advertisement for Chrysler taints Mr. Eastwood's words. He talks about how the people of Detroit know about being out of work, hurting, and scared, which is true, but then he goes on to say that "we all pulled together and now motor city is fighting again", which is a blatant lie. The people of Detroit did not pull together to make Detroit strong, nor did the people of the United States. "We" did not pull together at all. When Chrysler and General Motors, Detroit's major industry, were in danger of going out of business, they came to our government asking for a financial bail out. Our President ordered them to declare chapter 11 bankruptcy to relieve them of their debt before Congress invested BILLIONS of our tax dollars into the restructured companies. This is what gave Detroit, the Motor City, the ability to fight again.
Mr. Eastwood goes on to say that "The fog of division, discord, and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead" which is true, but he follows that statement by saying "after those trials we all rallied around what was right and acted as one", which is another blatant lie. "We" did not rally around what was right and act as one. Tim Geithner, the head of the President's Auto Task Force, who was in charge of handling the details of the Auto Industry Bankruptcies, relieved both of these companies from any liability they might have for injuries and deaths caused by their vehicles by including all pending personal injury/product liability cases in Chrysler's bankruptcy, which didn't have to happen. Sergio Marchionne, the head of Fiat who, due to the merger of these two companies, would become Chrysler's new CEO, was prepared to accept these liabilities but Mr. Geithner told him not to. (Because Chrysler was given that relief, GM asked for it, and was given it, too.) Despite our visits with Senators and Congressman, and our testimony in Congressional hearings, our President and our Congress as a whole, failed to act as over 1300 American citizens, tax payers, were prevented from exercising our Constitutional 7th Amendment Right to a civil trial; denying justice for the wrongful deaths of our loved ones, severe injuries, and permanent acquired disabilities. Then our government used BILLIONS of our tax dollars to stabilize the "new" Chrysler and GM. Neither Chrysler or GM ever had to face the trials for the damages done to their customers and as a result their vehicles are as dangerous today as they were in 2009. Tell me, Mr. Eastwood, and whoever the Chrysler advertising executive is that wrote your script, how are these actions "right" and how do they demonstrate us acting "as one"?
The rest of Mr. Eastwood's statements are true, and if he were really talking about the American people, what he says would be inspiring, but sadly, he's talking about Chrysler. When Chrysler couldn't find a "way through tough times" they made one by shirking their responsibilities and taking tax money from all of us, and GM followed their example. By ignoring their responsibility for injuries and deaths caused by their vehicles they prove Mr. Eastwood's statement that "All that matters now (to them) is what's ahead". He then goes on to ask some very important questions: "How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And how do we win?" and then he holds Chrysler up as an example by saying "Detroit's showing us it can be done." The only problem is that the example of "Detroit" doesn't answer the question of "How do we come together?" Detroit's answer to the questions of how we come from behind, and how we win, is by not coming together with, or even acknowledging, the very people whose rights were trampled to give them the opportunity to succeed. Chrysler and GM are profitable again because they took our tax money and turned their backs on loyal customers who were injured and killed by their vehicles and the majority of those who were lucky enough to survive are still out of work, hurting, and scared.
As I said in the beginning, I have a great deal of respect for Clint Eastwood and the intent behind my words is not to bash him in any way. I truly believe that if he was aware of the truth behind Chrysler and Detroit's auto industry, he would have rejected the script and turned down the commercial. That said, if, as Mr. Eastwood says in the ad, "What's true about them (Detroit) is true about all of us" then I fear for our society. I'm proud that our country can't be "knocked out with one punch" and that "we get back up again", but when we do, I for one, don't want to "hear the roar of our engines" until I know that they are safe, and that they have not been paid for with the lives and limbs of American Citizens. "Yeah, it's halftime in America and our second half is about to begin". I just hope that our second half is one where corporations like Chrysler and GM accept their responsibilities to the past, present, and future safety of their customers, and that both our President and Congress stop using our Constitutional Rights as commodities and find a way to allow us to seek justice once again.