Dumbass Quote of the Day »« Imam Arrested for Framing Girl for Blasphemy

Romney Aides Come Clean on Eastwood Speech

While the Romney campaign tries to put as good a spin as they can (at least in public) on Clint Eastwood’s bizarre speech at the Republican National Convention, privately they’re telling the truth about how it came about and how weird they thought it was too.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Eastwood’s convention cameo was cleared by Mr. Romney’s top message mavens, Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, who drew up talking points that Mr. Eastwood included, in his own way. They gave him a time limit and flashed a blinking red light that told him his time was up. He ignored both. The actor’s decision to use a chair as a prop was last-minute, and his own.

“The prop person probably thought he was going to sit in it,” a baffled senior aide said on Thursday night.

Mr. Eastwood’s rambling and off-color appearance just moments before the biggest speech of Mr. Romney’s life instantly became a Twitter and cable-news sensation, which drowned out much of the usual postconvention analysis that his campaign had hoped to bask in.

It also startled and unsettled Mr. Romney’s top advisers and prompted a blame game among them. “Not me,” an exasperated-looking senior adviser said when asked who was responsible for Mr. Eastwood’s speech. In interviews, aides called the speech “strange” and “weird.” One described it as “theater of the absurd.”…

Romney advisers so trusted Mr. Eastwood, 82, that unlike with other speakers, they said they did not conduct rehearsals or insist on a script or communicate guidelines for the style or format of his remarks.

In the end, it’s just a blip on the radar. But it’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen in politics, the first authentic — as in not rehearsed and programmed — moment I’ve seen at a political convention in a long time.

Comments

  1. d cwilson says

    I think it’s actually done more damage to Clint Eastwood’s reputation than to the Romney campaign.

    It’s still an apt metaphor for the GOP in general: An old white guy, angry and confused about how the world has changed around him, railing against a version of Obama that exists only in his imagination.

  2. raven says

    One described it as “theater of the absurd.”…

    It’s a huge step up here from their usual “theater of the deranged dog whistles”.

  3. StevoR says

    There once was an actor called Eastwood
    A great speaker republicans sure thought that he sure would
    They got him a chair
    But he spoke to the air
    And got his boss looking the least good

  4. Michael Heath says

    Where Michelle Obama killed. I got the same reaction to her speech that many of the bloggers Andrew Sullivan included in his Reax did. That reaction was how well she stuck the knife in the Romney family values narrative without ever once referring to them, but instead just talking about her family’s values.

    Mitt Romney now needs to perform far better than the president in the debates, not merely better. He’s not getting the bounce in the convention, which leaves the debates, ads (Especially robo-calls where the question is how many degrees from the N-word will Team Romney go?), and surprisingly bad economic data.

    I’m looking forward to the debates. Both men are good debators where Romney’s weakness is being forced outside the narrow boundaries of his message. So it’ll be interesting to see how Obama attempts to get him outside his comfort zone where I’m sure Romney will prepare hard to widen that comfort zone by being prepared for what Obama throws at him.

    However I also recall the tone of the Clinton ’96 campaign relative to Bob Dole. I thought Sen. Dole was ripe for negative campaigning yet Clinton took the high road to win easily. Me? I would have called Dole a whore. With Romney I’d continuously pound on what a liar Romney is and that he gives American business a horrible and undeserved reputation. Ms. Obama did a wonderful job last evening of noting Romney’s dishonesty merely by emphasizing truth matters to her and her husband; which got a big ‘heh!’ out of me.

  5. Dennis N says

    Mitt Romney now needs to perform far better than the president in the debates, not merely better.

    I just don’t see this happening. Obama is a fantastic speaker, and very relaxed in front of a crowd. Watching each of them on mute, you can tell who is comfortable and who isn’t. On top of that, Obama has a better message on the substance, but I’m long past thinking voters care about that.

    I think the only thing Mitt has going for him is PAC money. I am voting against him because I like the idea that there is at least one thing in this country that the super-rich can’t purchase outright, but we won’t know until the results are in.

  6. daved says

    Obama should suggest that the crowd at the debate sing “America the Beautiful.” Romney will be doomed whether he sings or not (if you’ve heard him try, you know what I mean).

    Bill Maher, on his show last Friday, was actually quite positive about Eastwood’s performance — gave him full marks for not losing the crowd while doing standup. I’ve thought it was really interesting that the more-liberal Maher was much more generous about Eastwood’s effort than most of the conservatives have been. I don’t think Maher was trying to be “fair and balanced,” either.

  7. eric says

    Heath @5:

    I’m looking forward to the debates.

    For the first time I can remember, I’m not. The Romney campaign’s ability to browbeat journalists and the press into not asking about abortion or women’s rights in their interviews with him has me thinking that they will do the same with the debates: issue an ultimatum to any prospective organizer – agree to stick only to the subjects we want, or we won’t show up.

    I also expect even more canned answers from Romney than we’ve seen with other recent candidates (except perhaps Palin), for exactly the same reason: there’s going to be a very limited number of subjects he wants to actually discuss on a podium with Obama there, so I expect any question that strays out of this narrow range will get a stock answer about the economy – regardless of what the question was about.

    Now, I *am* kinda looking forward to a Veep debate, Ryan vs. Biden. But that’s because that one promises to be an entirely different sort of political theater – I expect lots of own goals, on both sides. IMO if Biden can keep his temper, he’ll come out looking better than Ryan on actual issues. But Ryan will come out ahead if Biden can’t. So I give Ryan about an 80% chance of winning.

  8. kenbo says

    I find it hard to believe there is anyone who has not made up their mind about their presidential vote yet. I am on the fence about some of the ballot initiatives, but I would suspect there are not many people on the fence about their presidential vote.

    How about anyone here? Anyone still feel their presidential vote is up for grabs?

    And, if you have made up your mind, would anything your chosen candidate says in a debate change it?

    Kenbo

  9. Homo Straminus says

    StevoR @ 4: O! I’ll give it a go:

    There once was a man named Clint
    who was met with great fanfare
    but when he turned his famous glint
    on a simple, hapless chair, well
    if you wonder if his speech made any sense–it din’t.

  10. Homo Straminus says

    Re Ed@10: I lost all interest in ‘debates’ after watching Kerry repeatedly fail to call out Bush for platitudes and statements a trained monkey could spot.

    Disclaimer: I am not now, nor to my knowledge have ever been, a trained monkey. Any screeching and poo-flinging I learned from watching Phyllis Schlafly.

  11. d cwilson says

    eric @9:

    Actually, Romney probably won’t bother issuing any ultimatums to debate organizers. He’ll just do what he did during the GOP primary debates: Ignore the question he was asked and answer one he’d rather talk about.

  12. eric says

    d cwilson – regardless of what sort of behind the scenes negotiations will take place, we agree on the end result: the same 1-3 canned answers repeated for an hour.

  13. tfkreference says

    the first authentic — as in not rehearsed and programmed — moment I’ve seen at a political convention in a long time.

    …and the last.

  14. baal says

    I’ve found the comments on Eastwood to be a little harsher than merited. I found him entertaining. From a political angle, he didn’t help the(R) ticket (too distracting) so the time could have been better spent. It was malpractice for the Romney advisers to not vette his speech and plan accordingly.

  15. d cwilson says

    eric @15: Yeah, but this time, he’ll be facing an opponent who is a little tougher than Rick Perry or the oily Newt Gingrich.

  16. Michael Heath says

    daved writes:

    Bill Maher, on his show last Friday, was actually quite positive about Eastwood’s performance — gave him full marks for not losing the crowd while doing standup. I’ve thought it was really interesting that the more-liberal Maher was much more generous about Eastwood’s effort than most of the conservatives have been. I don’t think Maher was trying to be “fair and balanced,” either.

    Bill Maher gave kudos to Clint Eastwood for his performance in terms of entertaining the crowd. In that very same segment prior to Mr. Maher handing out a kudo, he ridiculed the quality of the content of Mr. Eastwood’s speech; deriding it as far right extremist shit – which is paraphrased, but IIRC, Maher did use the word shit to describe Eastwood’s argument.

  17. wscott says

    The one thing I’m curious to see in the debates is how far Obama will go in using Romney’s own words against him. Healthcare is the most obvious example, but I’m sure they could find Romney quotes (without quote mining) to support probably 2/3 of Obama’s agenda. “As a former governor of Massachusetts once put it…” Now that’s a dueling catchphrase contest I wouldn’t mind watching!

  18. Michael Heath says

    Homo Straminus writes:

    I lost all interest in ‘debates’ after watching Kerry repeatedly fail to call out Bush for platitudes and statements a trained monkey could spot.

    The Obama debate prep team has Sen. Kerry playing Mitt Romney; advantage Romney (on that one factor).

  19. says

    It’s still an apt metaphor for the GOP in general: An old white guy, angry and confused about how the world has changed around him, railing against a version of Obama that exists only in his imagination.

    d cwilson wins the thread.

    And no, Eastwood’s performance is not a blip; it’s just one more symptom of a party so dominated by unhinged extremists that it can no longer control its message, or its agenda (to the extent that it has one, of course).

  20. says

    I lost all interest in ‘debates’ after watching Kerry repeatedly fail to call out Bush for platitudes and statements a trained monkey could spot.

    There was nothing so frustrating as the Democrats’ total refusal to call the Republicans out for their bigoted, divisive, destructive attacks on other Americans. Both Edwards and Kerry were INVITED to talk about this important issue, and both ran away and tried to talk about healthcare instead. I really hope to all the Gods they don’t make the same mistake again this year.

  21. says

    How can he be such a great film maker but have such lousy special effects?

    Personally, I don’t think he’s that great a filmmaker. “Gran Torino” was okay (sort of a more serious version of “The Expendables”), but “Hereafter” and “Million Dollar Baby” looked like the work of someone getting a bit soft and sappy in his old age (though the tsunami scene at the very beginning of “Hereafter” was pretty well done).

  22. Homo Straminus says

    Michael Heath @ 22: “The Obama debate prep team has Sen. Kerry playing Mitt Romney; advantage Romney (on that one factor).”

    Leapin’ lizards. Who made that decision?

  23. Homo Straminus says

    Raging Bee @ 24: “I really hope to all the Gods they don’t make the same mistake again this year.”

    I ain’t a wagerin’ person, but…

  24. Randomfactor says

    stick only to the subjects we want, or we won’t show up.

    “Mr. Romney sends his regrets and will be represented during the debate by this empty chair.”

    Except that the chair would score higher.

  25. iangould says

    A long time ago I read somewhere – possibly in an issue of Time – an argument that running for Presdient of the Uited states is, in itself, sort of a rehearsal for the job:
    - the need to run a massive organization;
    - the need to respond rapdily to unexpected developments;
    - the constant media scrutiny.

    If you can’t run your campaign competently, you call into your question your ability to run the country competently.

    Mitt Romney is essentially a technocratic manager and is running as such.

    The Eastwood mess calls his competence in that role into question.

  26. says

    I agree with Kenbo. How can anyone with a working brain be undecided? I have never had to dither over my choice in the general election. By the time the primaries are over, I know who I will vote for — even if it’s not the person I originally supported. I was for Hillary in 2008 but switched to Obama when he outpointed her. No question of supporting McCain — what a joke that would have been (especially after Palin)! I know my own politics and which candidate is more closely aligned with my views (or, at the very least, which is less opposed to them). It’s not a difficult decision.

    Now, state propositions. That’s a more puzzling matter, since so many of them are a mishmash of good and bad, positive and negative, often blended with some badly drafted language. And perhaps even more special-interest-money-driven than candidates.

  27. D. C. Sessions says

    There is the tin-foil-hat story that Eastwood’s loyalties are, like the rest of Hollywood, to the Left. And his debate with the chair was carefully planned, like all of his movies, to have exactly the devastating effect that it had.

  28. says

    The empty chair signifies a non-person, meaning Eastwood considers the White House to be empty of a viable human being. Playing to a highly racist audience (Eastwood must know his audiences and how to play to them) that has to be taken as beyond mere political disagreement.

    It was a cheap shot but as Dirty Harry might say: “What are you going to do about it, punk?”

    In my opinion that puts Eastwood in the same boat as Ronald Reagan during his twilight time.

  29. Chiroptera says

    Zeno, #30: How can anyone with a working brain be undecided?

    Your average American feels a strong compulsion to carefully and thoroughly examine both sides of every obviously false equivalence.

  30. yoav says

    A bit OT but fu*k you DNC. It look like they appropriately didn’t mention god and omitted the pointless statement about Jerusalem as the capital of Israel from the official party platform (regardless of what you think on it we all know that whether it’s in the platform or not Obama is not going to do anything about it and for exactly the same reasons W didn’t when he was president). Apparently Obama panicked when republicans started making noise and ordered the change reversed, the resulting vote could have easily been a scene from the north Korean parliament with the chair declaring the result he wanted regardless of what actually happened. ARRRGH!!

  31. F says

    Now they should take a step back and look at all the things they say and do, and their platform(s). All just as FUBAR.

  32. anubisprime says

    Obama is a coherent intelligent quick and lucid man…
    Romney…errr! not so much!

    But it will not be the debates that decide.
    Although brain dead bunnies might get more influence from the commentators about who won and the ever partisan la la land Fox news.
    Obama will have the media of Murdoch to deal with.

    Murdo’ loved boasting that it was the ‘Sun* wot won it’ in a UK election years ago..a lurch to the right always provides that proprietor with a smile…about the only thing that does these days !

    It will be the sheeple, the disenfranchised, the cynical and the voter turn out.

    * Sun…a brit tabloid gutter press daily newspaper…more like a imbeciles comic mag then a serious news distribution medium.

  33. dingojack says

    anubisprime – You might have missed it but Mr Murdoch has been ‘humbled’.
    Murdoch cozying up to either ‘the rich & famous’ or ‘the great & the good’ is not something either they, or he, wants to be seen to be doing just now (until next year say).
    Dingo

  34. says

    “How about anyone here? Anyone still feel their presidential vote is up for grabs?”

    Barring a sudden revelation that the PotUS actually DOES eat babies and is the 12th Imam (with lazerbeam eyes) my mind is made up, and has been since late July–2008. Gobama.

  35. cswella says

    Barring a sudden revelation that the PotUS actually DOES eat babies…

    Is it especially odd that I disagree with you here? Even if I found out that Obama ate babies, I would still be inclined to vote for him over Romney.

  36. d cwilson says

    Even if he were the 12th Imam, having a president with frickin’ lazer beam eyes were be so awesome!

  37. caseloweraz says

    Limericks! As the late Jimmy Durante used to say, “Ev’rybody’s gettin’ into the act!”

    My turn now:

    There once was an hombre named Clint
    Well known for his menacing squint
    But at the convention
    His speech garnered mention
    For having a Looney Tunes™ tint.

    .
    A noted filmmaker is he
    So the GOP booked him with glee.
    But in the event
    Their glee quickly went
    Down with Clint’s rudderless spree.

  38. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Even if I found out that Obama ate babies, I would still be inclined to vote for him over Romney. – cswella

    Surely, since this would confirm the otherwise implausible rumours that he’s an atheist, it would be a point in his favour? :-p

Leave a Reply