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Aug 31 2012

The surprise that failed

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.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    slc1

    Considering that Eastwood has expressed support for abortion and same sex marriage (“I don’t give a fu*k who marries who”), he doesn’t seem to fit in very well with the current crowd running the party. Like fellow actor and former Rethuglican James Woods, he has tended somewhat Libertarian in recent years.

  2. 2
    jamessweet

    How many people under 40 years of age even know who he is?

    Oh, you’re way off on that. Eastwood is iconic, I bet even teens know who he is. I’m a ripe old 33 (still a ways short of 40!) and all of my peers know who Clint Eastwood is.

  3. 3
    slc1

    Actually, I would have to disagree with Prof. Singham here. IMHO, Eastwood was a much better director then he was an actor.

  4. 4
    Sunny

    Too bad they could not get Dave Mustaine or Ted Nugent.

  5. 5
    Lou Doench

    Supposedly the act went over quite well with the delegates live. Which is really scary.

  6. 6
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    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.

    Hee.

    That said, Paul Newman would probably have sent my pulse racing even when he was in his 80s. Eastwood, not at any age.

    p.s. Rich Abdill has a funny annotated version of Eastwood’s speech.

    “Screw Abraham Lincoln and his rotten bifurcating face” almost made me choke on a pumpkin seed.

  7. 7
    starskeptic

    “Romney is too buttoned-down to risk a self-aggrandizing loose cannon upstaging him on his big night.”

    She would simply have been just an additional upstaging…

  8. 8
    Reginald Selkirk

    You didn’t even go much into the content of Eastwood’s speech. He contradicted the Republican position and countered their interests numerous times.
    .
    He said he doesn’t like lawyers in office. Romney has a degree from Harvard Law. He says it’s time to give a businessman a try. Remember W bragging about how many businesses he had run into the ground?
    .
    He was unhappy with the war in Afghanistan. That war was started by W, and the ensuing occupation ignored and mismanaged. He wants to get out right away. That runs counter to Romney’s stated policy.
    .
    He is unhappy that the president failed to close GitMo. Obama made some serious attempts at that in his first year, but was blocked by congress (both parties). Then he is unhappy that Obama wanted to try a terrorist in civilian court. Well WTF do you think you have to do with them if you’re going to close GitMo?
    .
    Eastwood didn’t seem at all clued in to what the issues are, and which position the GOP has taken on them. This was the sort of performance that gives senility a bad name.

  9. 9
    Albert Bakker

    From what I have seen it was brilliant. One has to first abandon the idea however that it would somehow matter what he said, or how he said it. Incoherence, self-contradiction, not having a point, it really doesn’t matter. It was Clint Eastwood, ethos in the flesh, and it was highly sophisticated rhetorics. You can measure how good it actually was by the result. Republicans loved it, Democrats are puzzled. Mission accomplished I would say.

  10. 10
    EricR

    Republicans loved it, Democrats are puzzled

    Still he would have gotten the exact same result if he stood on stage for ten minutes chanting nothing but USA USA USA..

    As it was I found it a rambling, incoherant mess that was nearly unwatchable, and not even remotely amusing.

  11. 11
    McC2lhu doesn't want to know what you did there.

    Maybe he’s playing a game of false flag, and he’s the flag. That Eastwood video that came out earlier in the year seemed like a Dem positive message that the bailout worked and saved the auto industry. He can say whatever he wants and just claim it’s old age. Most people who aren’t voting GOP would have choice words for Obama too, so that bit may have not been acting, but they’re not freaking bugnutz enough to vote for Rmoney.

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