By Steve Jagler Special to Published Feb 22, 2012 at 3:02 PM

No matter your political persuasion, some things transcend politics. Or at least, they should.

With that, I point to the ridiculous controversy over actor Clint Eastwood's television commercial for Chrysler during the Super Bowl. The powerful ad proclaimed it is "halftime in America," and it's time for the nation to get up, dust itself off and get back to work.

"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," Eastwood said in the commercial. "This country can't be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again, and when we do, the world's going to hear the roar of our engines."

Former Bush adviser Karl Rove said he was "offended" by the ad, which he described as political patronage to the Obama administration for its bailout of the automaker. 

Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne said the ad was not a political endorsement. Marchionne told WJR radio in Detroit that the ad "brought a huge amount of pride back from Detroiters" and "we probably deserve it ... after all the stuff that we've gone through. It has zero political content," Marchionne said.

"It was not intended to be any type of political overture on our part. We are as apolitical as you can make us ... I wasn't expressing a view and certainly nobody inside Chrysler was attempting to influence decisions."

In fact, Eastwood has long been a Republican and served as mayor of Carmel, Calif. Eastwood, who spent time in Detroit producing the 2008 movie "Gran Torino" about a retired auto worker, even told the Los Angeles Times in November that he opposed the auto bailout.

After Rove's comments, Eastwood said, "I am certainly not affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message, just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it." He added that if "Obama or any other politician wants to run with the spirit of that ad, go for it."

The problem is that Rove is a political animal, and as such, he applies political optics to everyone else's motivations, even if they don't exist. Democratic operatives often do the same thing from the other side.

The rebirth of the American automotive industry should be celebrated. Period. Cast the partisan blinders to the trash can for a moment and see it for what it is – even if many of those Detroit jobs are union jobs. Sometimes you must put country before party.

The rejuvenation of Detroit is spilling over into Wisconsin, which is home to several auto suppliers. As the cover story of this edition of BizTimes Milwaukee documents, the manufacturing sector is leading Wisconsin's economic recovery.

Some of the best cars in the world are being produced in Detroit. Kudos to Chrysler. The last time a company made such a bold, impactful statement came in May 2008, in the early stages of the Great Recession and nearly seven years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The nation was looking for a way out of its fog of grief and anger when Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. brashly and abruptly proclaimed in an ad, "Screw it, let's ride."


Steve Jagler Special to

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes in Milwaukee and is past president of the Milwaukee Press Club. BizTimes provides news and operational insight for the owners and managers of privately held companies throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

Steve has won several journalism awards as a reporter, a columnist and an editor. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

When he is not pursuing the news, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristi, and their two sons, Justin and James. Steve can be reached at