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Chrysler Super Bowl commercial: Why Detroit loves Clint Eastwood (+video)

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No, they saw that ad, and they saw Detroit staring back at them – a flawed, proud industrial giant that’s trying to claw its way back. And it’s right that Clint Eastwood was the face of this. He was great in the role, for one. For another, he’s beloved in the Motor City.

We’re speaking here as a Detroit native, someone whose first job in journalism was a Detroit News paper route. We’ve got three Bill Freehan autographs. We could hear the Ford tractor plant from our house. Didn’t know that Ford used to actually make farm equipment in the Detroit area? Now you do.

Detroit’s a shadow of itself now. They talk about letting parts of the city go back to nature. But the city is angry, and proud, and both resentful and grateful to anyone in Washington who will give it a chance.

The headline on the News website this morning was not, “Was Eastwood ad political?” It was “Chrysler’s hourly employees to get bonuses early.” That’s what’s important in the Motor City.

The “political” argument over the Eastwood spot misses the point of the ad, argues News columnist Daniel Howes today. It’s really about how Detroit collapsed in its own mistakes, and how everyone has to come together to bring it back, and how much that costs – in lost jobs, shuttered dealers, broken dreams.

It’s also about whether Detroit’s experience “is a harbinger for the nation,” writes Mr. Howes. Look upon us, and see yourself. This is what we all have to do to recover.

And that brings us back to Eastwood. He’s a movie star, a Republican, a former mayor of Carmel, Calif. That’s pretty far from a Detroit experience.

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