The fact that America is up in arms over a Chrysler commercial featuring Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood claiming it was "halftime in America" reveals a serious rift in the U.S. psyche that needs to mend, says Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of Pimco, the world's largest bond fund.
The ad drew criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
"Several Republicans complained this week that Clint Eastwood was implicitly supporting Barack Obama. After all, the commercial could be interpreted as suggesting that, under President Obama, America has turned the corner and is now embarking on a path to prosperity — something that most Republicans dismiss," El-Erian writes in a Huffington Post column.
Democrats were quick to counter, El-Erian points out.
"On the contrary they shouted. If anything, 'Halftime in America' was pro-Republican. It could easily be viewed as implying the need for a change in game plan and personnel substitutions — similar to what a losing team would discuss in the locker room at half time in order to regain control of the game and win."
The problem is such a rift, finding reason to cast political stones over any issues that arises, prevents leaders from agreeing on policies needed to kick-start the U.S. economy.
"Viewed as a standalone, the controversy generated by the Clint Eastwood Super Bowl commercial is really silly. Yet it points to something profound that has and, if left unaddressed, will continue to undermine America's ability to regain economic dynamism, create ample jobs, and deal with growing inequalities."
Political bickering and brinkmanship nearly threw the U.S. economy into default during the debt ceiling debacle in 2011, when both sides were unable to agree on terms needed to lift the country's spending limit, an economic luxury few other countries enjoy.
Bickering over a Super Bowl commercial with Clint Eastwood highlights the rift still remains today.
"This is yet another illustration of the deep political dysfunctionality that continuously undermines D.C.'s willingness and ability to move forward with the much-needed revitalization of the economy. The longer this continues, the greater the costs and the harder the solutions."
Eastwood, meanwhile, has defended the ad, insisting it carries no subversive political messages or agenda.
"I just want to say that the spin stops with you guys, and there is no spin in that ad. On this I am certain," Eastwood tells Fox News.
"l am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message about just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK. I am not supporting any politician."
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