Much could be said about any of the stirring speeches and speakers at the recent Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida; but curiously, it seems that Clint Eastwood’s speech last Thursday has been the topic of the most discussion.
We could discuss the stirring speech of statesman Marco Rubio or the heart-felt speeches of friends of the Romney family who have been touched by the GOP candidate’s selflessness and generosity. These speeches, however, seem to call for little examination, explanation, or defense. They seem to stand alone as any honest and well-meaning words should stand. Why then, are we hearing so much about Clint Eastwood’s speech? There are a few obvious reasons.
First, Eastwood is a prominent member of the Hollywood establishment as a long-time actor, director, and musician. The fact, alone, that he would be willing to speak in a major Republican forum, automatically makes him a target among the liberal community of Hollywood and beyond. Like Mr. Eastwood offered as an opening point to establish credibility, Hollywood types are quite well known for their outspoken liberal views and loyalties. Liberals, then, view Eastwood as a traitor to their almost exclusive club of political ideology. He did, though, offer up that there are more conservatives in Hollywood than we think.
Secondly, it is much easier for liberal Democrat spokespeople to attempt to distract the public with sarcastic critiques of an actor’s speech at the RNC than to challenge the substance of the speeches of average taxpayers and policymakers, given that their candidate for reelection holds an indefensible record.
Thirdly, as an elderly gentleman (he is now 82 years old), Eastwood is also an easy target of the pop-culture-addicted liberal elite of modern America, who increasingly alienate the elders among us with their ideas, statements, and policies, and who seem to care little about their elders’ opinions.
Even in their critiques of Eastwood’s speech, his detractors have not largely attempted to attack the core content of the speech. After all, he did have some important things to say. He reminded the audience that “we own this country” and that “when somebody does not do the job, we’ve gotta let ‘em go.” Instead, they have criticized his talent at standup comedy, his failure to adhere to his allotted 5-minute time slot (the speech lasted 12 minutes), and his less-than-smooth and polished vocal delivery.
In his defense, Clint Eastwood is 82 years old, an American icon, and is not a career politician. It seems, then, that he should be entitled to some otherwise inexcusable liberty of presentation. As for the liberal talkers who have been so critical of the speech as one that went on with rambling and stammering, I think it would be interesting to compare Eastwood’s unscripted, 12-minute speech with an unscripted, 12-minute block of any one of President Obama’s speeches to see which speech included the most “uhs” and awkward pauses. That is, if we could find a speech from Obama in which he went without his beloved teleprompter for that long of a time segment. Eastwood is said to despise the use of teleprompters.
So, what has been said about Clint Eastwood and his speech? Well, NBC “journalists” among others have suggested that the Romney campaign was embarrassed and disappointed with his speech. In an interview with Laura Ingraham that breached this subject, Geraldo Rivera, who sometimes unsuccessfully attempts to appear as journalistic and neutral, described Eastwood’s speech as “a disaster”. The New York Times described the speech as a “rambling conversation with an empty chair,” and “the most bizarre, head-scratching 12 minutes in recent political convention history.” Predictably, Rachel Maddow said, “That was the weirdest thing I’ve seen at a political convention in my entire life”; and during Eastwood’s presentation, Chris Soliz of the Washington Post tweeted “What. Is. Happening.” Even our own very mature commander-in-chief weighed in on the Eastwood speech with his “humble” tweet: “This seat’s taken.” We’ll hold back from all the obvious voter fraud jokes that could be inspired by that statement.
As it turns out, Mitt Romney personally invited him to speak on his behalf at the convention after Eastwood’s recent hearty, public endorsement of Romney. The Romney campaign was so “embarrassed” by Eastwood’s speech that they released this statement Thursday evening: “Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn’t work. His ad libbing was a break from all the political speeches, and the crowd enjoyed it.” Yes, the Romney campaign was so “disappointed” with Eastwood’s speech that they released this statement during Romney’s final convention speech. They couldn’t wait! Ann Romney also expressed her appreciation of Eastwood’s support in a recent interview. As the New York Times pointed out, a couple of Romney’s aides did describe Eastwood’s speech as “strange” and “weird,” but it is hard to absolutely assume that they necessarily meant these terms to negatively describe the whole of the speech.
In case you missed it, as he addressed the empty chair to his left that he described to be inhabited by the president, in one bit from the standup portion of his speech, Eastwood offered these lines: “What do you want me to tell Mr. Romney? I can’t tell him that. He can’t do that to himself. You’re getting as bad as Biden.” Maybe I’m easily amused or have a warped sense of humor, but that’s comedic brilliance!
Mr. Eastwood’s manager, Leonard Hirshan, is said to have described the feedback of Eastwood’s speech as evenly divided between supportive and critical voices and said of him that “he does these things for himself,” and that “It’s his private life. He believes in what he’s doing.”
Clint Eastwood’s RNC speech may have been “weird,” “strange,” and unorthodox, but it was also arguably on topic, entertaining, and meaningful. For those of us who know and get Clint Eastwood, I don’t think the speech was all that shocking at all, and it seems that he offered nothing in his speech that Clint Eastwood shouldn’t easily be able to get away with. I believe he successfully endorsed Mitt Romney as the best candidate to be the next president of the United States. If you disagree with me, you have that right, but I’ll then offer to you the words of “Dirty Harry” when I say “Go ahead. Make my day.”
Photo credit: Siebbi (Creative Commons)