I do not watch any of the convention proceedings because they are highly scripted and rarely produce any news. But I do read news items about them. One of the hot rumors that was going around was the appearance of a surprise speaker for the final night. I thought that was rather odd in itself, since it conveyed the underlying message that Mitt Romney and his speech were expected to be so boring that they had to find a way to attract a larger audience by promising a mystery guest.
But the real surprise was why they chose the mystery guest to be Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood? What was the point? Who was he supposed to appeal to? At age 82, Eastwood is old even by my standards. He is a well-known Republican so it was not even some form of political coup like getting a well-known Democrat, say Warren Beatty, would have been. Eastwood had a good run as an actor and now makes fairly decent (if in my opinion somewhat over-rated) films as a director but is hardly someone who would send pulses racing unless you were of an age where there is a real risk of your pulse stopping altogether at any time. How many people under 40 years of age even know who he is?
One of the names being bandied about as the surprise guest was that of Ronald Reagan appearing in hologram form. That would have been interesting and watchable, a sign that the Republicans were not conceding the technology demographic to the Democrats, and also appropriate since he is the modern day god of Republicanism. I never put much stock in the other rumor that it would be Sarah Palin. Romney is too buttoned-down to risk a self-aggrandizing loose cannon upstaging him on his big night. Besides which he probably thinks that he has pandered enough to the nutters in his party with the selection of Paul Ryan.
But the Eastwood appearance turned out to be a disaster, with him rambling to an empty chair that supposedly had president Obama seated on it. Given his background as an actor and director, you would think that he would have seen the value of getting a good writer for his speech but it looked like he had written his own material. Not only were the jokes terrible, depending as they largely did on the implication that the Obama-chair was whispering obscenities in his ear, he hardly mentioned Romney and it was not clear what he was driving at in his remarks since he meandered all over the place.
To the delight of the convention audience, he said his famous catchphrase “Go ahead, make my day”. He probably would have got a much bigger response if he had told the Obama-chair his other famous phrase “Are you feeling lucky, punk?” but probably realized that with the racially-tinged hatred that many people have for Obama, that would have been too explosive.
Here is his speech.
p.s. Rich Abdill has a funny annotated version of Eastwood’s speech.