Friday, August 31, 2012

How about that Clint Eastwood!

Just as the nation was waiting to hear from the “re-invented” Mitt Romney (or is that the “re-re-re-invented Mitt Romney), expecting – well, at least hoping – to hear perhaps the first civil, truthful speech of the recent Republican Convention, we get . . . Clint Eastwood.

It is hard to imagine that the organizers of the convention or the Romney campaign are pleased with what Mr. Eastwood delivered. Hard to imagine, perhaps, but not impossible. The response of the crowd, standing, cheering, waving banners, guffawing of Eastwood’s obscenities really told the whole story. Whether Eastwood went “off-script” or did as he was directed to do, it went over like a million helium-filled balloons.

For those who didn’t see his performance, Eastwood spoke with an empty chair beside him which was intended to represent President Obama. Eastwood invented a conversation in which he “questioned” the President and then invented the answers he thought would please his audience. The entire ten minute speech was a rambling insult to intelligent discourse but there were two particular points at which Eastwood stepped over the boundary of human decency entirely.

At various points in the speech, he pretended that the President was telling him to “shut up.” Of course, being Clint Eastwood, no one tells him to shut up. But the really onerous sections of his performance was when he suggested that the President was telling him, first to tell Romney to . . . well, you have to read it yourself to see the impertinence of it: 

What? What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. That. He can't do that to himself.

 And then, later in the speech this again: 

OK, well, anyway. All right, I'm sorry. I can't do that to myself either.

To be fair to the delegates at the convention who endorsed this guttural trash talk with their cheers and applause, it is possible that, in a noisy environment, they didn’t really comprehend Eastwood’s words; that they were just excited to hear someone trash the man they love to hear trashed. But they can now read the transcript and see exactly what was said. Does anyone expect there to be a cry of outrage that the “convention of family values” was sullied by such a performance? The refusal of candidate after candidate to repudiate the errors and lies from their speeches, even when pointed out by multiple fact-checking sources, does not give one much reason to hope for such an outcome.

Governor Romney was in the wings as Eastwood was speaking and I assume did not hear his offensive remarks. But if he has not heard of them by now he is being ill-served by those around him. As a man of virtue (which testimony after testimony declared him to be) he should publicly and firmly rebuke Eastwood and those who brought him on for sullying the meeting with gutter-talk; a meeting in which Romney’s own wife, Paul Ryan’s wife, his and Ryan’s children, and Romney’s grandchildren were present; a meeting which much of the nation was watching; a meeting that purported to cast the Republican Party as the party of righteousness and family values; a meeting that proclaimed, over and over again, that America is exceptional in all good things.

I am exceptionally embarrassed at Eastwood’s performance.



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