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Thursday night, the Republican Convention culminated with the much anticipated acceptance speech of Mitt Romney. His speech will be dissected backwards and forwards. The plan he laid out will be analyzed and fact checked. The attacks on the President will be evaluated for their impact and truth. All of these items will happen over the course of the next week. But the thing many will be talking about more is the speech made by American Icon Clint Eastwood.
In a surprise visit, Eastwood stepped to the stage to a rousing standing ovation. What followed was an explosion of real time panning and praise across the social media universe. Traditional media and pundits soon followed suit after Romney completed his speech. If you are a Conservative partisan, then you found the speech funny, and a breath of fresh air from a Hollywood actor. Liberals and Obama supporters found it offensive, and rambling. The truth is somewhere in between.
In deference to the Eastwood here is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (in reverse).
All actors share one trait that is maddening to groups that have them speak or support their causes: they cannot be controlled. Eastwood was scheduled for a five minute, scripted speech. He went over time and off script. He added an off color joke about an imaginary President Obama telling him (Eastwood) to tell Romney to “go do something he can’t do to himself.” The remark was NOT appreciated by the Romney camp. We are, after all, talking about a Presidential candidate for whom saying the word “hell” is noteworthy. It is not something that anyone would have signed off on. But what is there to do, walk him off the stage like they do at the Oscars? Once Eastwood is on stage, you just have to accept whatever happens next.
There is wide acceptance among the political class that President Obama has a disdain for Romney. There is little doubt, however, that he would not actually ask Romney a question or make a comment about Romney in that manner. He is not Rahm Emmanuel, after all.
The schtick Eastwood used regarding interviewing the President, but having an empty seat, has been mocked across Hollywood. Roger Ebert remarked, “Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic.” Fellow film critic Richard Roeper tweeted, “Clint has now eclipsed the total word count of his last three films.” Star Jones had this too say, ”I can’t believe I just watched Clint Eastwood turn into somebody’s DRUNK UNCLE HARRY on the stage of the GOP RNC. He humiliated himself.”
What is interesting here is that even the film critics do not have a sense of entertainment history. The empty chair technique is an old comedic routine. Clint was around when it was used, but his age may have something to do why he performed it so haltingly. It did not translate, and probably would not have if he had delivered it in a smooth manner.
At 82, there is a legitimate question as to whether Eastwood is mentally agile enough for what he was attempting. As it turned out, all it did was take attention from Romney’s speech. It won’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but in a campaign where the President is searching for distractions, no one on the conservative side should be providing them.
Lost in the reaction to the off-color jokes, and a comedic routine that failed because of how it was delivered, is the substance of what Eastwood said.
Liberals are quick to ignore this, because in their world you do not criticize Democrats, and not this President. It is disrespectful, it is wrong, and to many it is racist. It is not surprising they ignore the numerous jokes and just plain nasty remarks (Bill Maher) made toward republicans.
To them it is fair game: it is just jokes, it is free speech. In reality it is evidence of how thin skinned liberals really are. When they make fun of you, you should be able to take a joke. Make fun of them, and you’re crazy, kookie, or a bad person.
Clint made the very real analogy that when you have someone that is not doing the job, you have to let them go. You just do not tell Obama he should be fired or replaced in the liberal world. It is nuts to point out that he, and all politicians work for us. It is just not done to point out the pain of 23 million people out of work.
On substance Eastwood was as on target as any of the gun toting heroes he played in those old spaghetti westerns.