At the Republican National Convention in Tampa in 2012 everything seemed to be going well: Ann Romney gracefully and lovingly introduced her husband. Condoleezza Rice spoke passionately about the state of the U.S. Paul Ryan made interesting digs at the President’s accomplishments. There was Chris Christie too.
Then came the surprise guest: Clint Eastwood from Hollywood, a man of great screen credits, eminent actor and great director, a celebrity of enviable stature. At 82 he should probably have been sitting on a rocking chair, watching TV with a glass of red wine.
Instead, he flew all the way to Florida to tell the world that not everyone in the Hollywood crowd was a bleeding heart liberal. He could have simply extolled the Republican nominee for his many virtues and strengths in a serious and dignified manner.
Instead, he chose to deride the sitting president by addressing a chair where the President wasn’t sitting, except in Clint’s imagination, He rambled on and on for more minutes than had been allotted to him, sometimes incoherently, it seemed, apparently taunting Mr. Obama in his fanciful interview.
Depending on one’s political persuasion and level of intelligence, Clint’s farce was rated variously as brilliant, hilarious, silly, embarrassing, stupid, unbecoming, pathetic, mindless, inappropriate, unfortunate, and such. Obama probably murmured at the end of that show from the East Room, “You made my Day, Eastwood!”
The actor of Dirty Harry fame will one day be forgotten from the public mind. But not this performance from the pulpit which was watched by millions. It is now part of American history. The poor man, with all his outstanding cinematic successes, probably never expected this anti-climax for his career. He certainly did not deserve to inflict this on himself. It just shows how one act of wrong or no judgment could have a serious impact. It was a sad spectacle. But it showed the world that Democracy means that everyone in the country has the Constitution-given right to blurt out whatever nonsense he or she wants, especially about politicians in power.
Mr. Romney spoke well and with dignity. Clint’s clowning was even more tragic because it stole Romney’s thunder in a needlessly inane way. Soon after the awkward episode, people’s attention was riveted to Clint’s dialogical soliloquy. After all, gossip is more entertaining fodder than politics. That is what politics come to.
August 30, 2012