Why Eastwood? Look at the map

posted at 11:21 am on August 31, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

As I mentioned in my last post, I missed part of the line-up last night.  I got back just in time to see Clint Eastwood offer up one more “Make my day,” and then watch the deluge of criticism roll across Twitter.  It continues today at Time Magazine, where Michael Grunwald calls it a “train wreck,” and goes a little Chris Matthews for good measure:

 Oh my. Romney’s speech sounded fine, and Marco Rubio seemed quite eloquent, but honestly, all I can think about is Dirty Harry scolding an invisible president in a chair for making an anatomically impossible suggestion. We had heard there would be a surprise guest tonight, but apparently, the surprise was a surprise to the surprise guest. You know how reporters always complain that conventions are too scripted? Eastwood was the first thing on network TV tonight, and oh, it wasn’t scripted. It wasn’t rehearsed. It wasn’t sane. …

There was one semi-disturbing moment, when Clint screamed “We own this country!” He got a standing ovation for that one, and it’s possible that the virtually all-white crowd was picking up a bit of Gran Torino you-know-what-I-mean-by-we. But I would chalk it up to incoherence rather than malice, because that was definitely the theme of his soliloquy.

The “sane” world understood that as a reference to the taxpayers as opposed to the political class, actually, and the theme of Gran Torino wasn’t a paean to xenophobia, either.  In fact, that’s nearly a direct antithesis of its message.  It doesn’t get much better over at National Journal’s roundup of reactions, either:

The reviews continue to pour in on Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National convention Thursday night, and “mixed” might be a charitable way to put it. One prominent Republican, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, said that he “cringed” at the performance.

Walker, appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, echoed the sentiments of many when he said he would have preferred to see more testimonials from people talking about Romney. “Frankly I would have rather seen that than Clint Eastwood,” he said. …

Eastwood’s performance, a rambling 12-minute discourse that featured the legendary actor and Oscar-winning director talking to an empty chair that represented President Obama, dominated Twitter and other social media sites.

The Romney campaign explained it best:

“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.”

Perhaps the initial reaction from people came from the immediacy of the moment, and an expectation that a lifelong entertainer had come to do something other than, er, entertain.  Plenty of criticism in my Twitter feed came from people who support Mitt Romney, too.  But having watched it this morning, after all of the drama has passed, I actually thought Eastwood was … pretty funny.  It was refreshing to get that break from all of the seriousness of the three days in Tampa.  The clucking of tongues over Eastwood’s “I can’t do that to myself” as inappropriate is almost laughable, considering what passes for humor these days in the US.  Eastwood intended this to be irreverent, spontaneous, and fun. If you didn’t get at least three laughs out of that 11-minute segment, you’re taking life too seriously.

If I can riff like that on national TV at the age of 82, believe me, I’ll be happy.

One criticism is more substantial, which is that this kind of break from seriousness should have been scheduled earlier in the evening.  That misses the point of having Eastwood on the stage at all.  Michael Walsh explains it at the New York Post:

To see why the choice of Clint Eastwood as the surprise guest speaker at last night’s close of the Republican Convention was so brilliant, look at the electoral map. …

In other words, the Heartland Campaign is not simply about Electoral College votes. It’s also a way to frame the Democrats as the out-of-touch party of the status quo — i.e., Big Government — at a time when Big Government has so signally failed the average American.

If it works — and if a Romney administration can successfully grapple with the debt bomb, the entitlement crisis and growing government dependency — it could set back the Democrats’ prospects for years to come.

Which brings us back to Eastwood. In such films as “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and “High Plains Drifter,” he’s the embodiment of rugged, rebellious heartland values.

And those cranky, cantankerous, all-American voters are just who Romney & Ryan need to defeat the coastal elites and return America to its heartland roots.

Besides the Heartland Strategy, the RNC and Team Romney was using the Eyeball Strategy.  They needed to reach people who might not have otherwise tuned in to the Republican convention to see Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney.  That means putting their Eyeball Strategy in play directly before Rubio.  Now, perhaps some people who tuned in to see Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood speak tuned out after (or even during), but it’s a no-lose strategy.  They wouldn’t lose anyone who tuned in to see Romney and Rubio anyway, and there’s a very good chance that most of the people who tuned in for Eastwood stuck around for Rubio and Romney afterward.  If they did, they saw two terrific speeches and perhaps had their minds opened about Romney after Barack Obama’s summer of vilification.

That’s brilliant. As for the handwringing over Eastwood’s extemporaneous riff, I can only say this:

Update: David Harsanyi concurs:

And speaking of the mildly curious voters … Though many of them may enjoy and admire someone like George Clooney, they probably don’t relate to him. Clint, on the other hand, cuts through generations and fan bases. He’s about as close to universally liked as a celebrity can get. This is why Chrysler used his voice.  Eastwood’s appearance will do nothing to amuse those who take their politics too seriously, but he certainly lightened up what is by nature an artificial and highly-scripted event. No, Eastwood didn’t lay out an eloquent, bullet-point argument against Barack Obama’s economic policies, what he did was convey a prevalent sentiment in nonpartisan language that a lot of people who don’t care much about politics can relate to.

Morning Spew adds this:

What is most humorous is that by presenting in a seemingly unscripted manner, Eastwood masterfully uses his craft to interact with all voters in a playful, personal way and squarely hits his mark.  His performance caught the liberal main stream media off guard because they didn’t understand the intent of his speech, and so in their haste to destroy all things Romney, they’ve dutifully trashed Eastwood’s appearance.  What the liberal pundits do not realize (yet) is that by trashing Mr. Eastwood speech, they have simply helped to bring more attention to Eastwood’s message: Obama must go.

I think most people will see this is a lark, and react accordingly.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 3 4 5

I thought Eastwood was interesting and funny.

Terrye on August 31, 2012 at 5:18 PM

That line must be very scary to any liberal who understands the real world.

Elisa on August 31, 2012 at 3:57 PM

That has to be a miniscule list…

I saw most of it, and the fact Obama had to deign to reply, with his petty little snark… “This chair is taken”…

Nice of Obama to validate Clint’s entire set of points about him.. Obama is a failed president,.. and is NOT a NICE GUY..

Point to Obama and his blind worshipers posting here,..

The public hates no one more, than a mean petty little man who thinks the Peoples Office, is his personal property, and his attitude is exactly “and don’t you peasants forget that”.

His tweet proved the point..

he isn’t nice..

and he thinks we owe him the seat.

We don’t “owe” him jack Schidt…. you either serve the people well, or you get replaced. That the left in this country has such an entitlement mentality, even elected office is something they feel owed by a public they hold mostly in contempt.

The more Obama speaks, the less I hold my contempt for him, and his campaign in check. What a small minded petty little man he is…

mark81150 on August 31, 2012 at 5:22 PM

jimver on August 31, 2012 at 4:54 PM

I heard that Eastwood threatened Moore once…does not surprise me. Moore thought it was a joke, and then Clint Eastwood informed he was serious..Who knows? But Moore did not press the issue.

Terrye on August 31, 2012 at 5:22 PM

My first glimpse of Clint was as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide… then the man with no name in the spaghetti westerns.. Fist full of Dollars, A few Dollars more, and the Good the bad and The Ugly.

Dirty Harry for me was a reboot,.. from an earlier image.

Clint is not the Titan for me John Wayne was.. but he’s not far behind. I liked him in Hang Em High best..

mark81150 on August 31, 2012 at 5:28 PM

It continues today at Time Magazine, where Michael Grunwald calls it a “train wreck,” and goes a little Chris Matthews for good measure:

well THERE are two train wrecks!

KOOLAID2 on August 31, 2012 at 5:29 PM

My 73 year old mother emailed me and said she loved Clint. She loved what he had to say and said he was “charming”. I think this may have been one demographic the RNC was targeting.

traditionalgal on August 31, 2012 at 5:38 PM

The speech was quite well done. For 82, he was quite composed!

TX-96 on August 31, 2012 at 5:42 PM

I’m 68 and I approve Clint’s message and performance.

GaltBlvnAtty on August 31, 2012 at 5:43 PM

I’m 68 and I approve Clint’s message and performance.

GaltBlvnAtty on August 31, 2012 at 5:43 PM

I thouht it was very good!..The “empty chair” was a brilliant idea!..:)

Dire Straits on August 31, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Time for Clint to carry on in the entertainer mode and creatively go after those who take jabs at his message: empty chair leadership.

Would like to see some rebuttals in character: a little Dirty Harry, HIgh Plains Drifter vs Colbert, Stewart, other lefties.

Have fun. Why not the left has been doing it for years…….

bubbafromkc on August 31, 2012 at 6:23 PM

Clint is not the Titan for me John Wayne was.. but he’s not far behind. I liked him in Hang Em High best..

mark81150 on August 31, 2012 at 5:28 PM

It’s funny that you mention John Wayne. I’m a little bit younger than you, and Clint is my John Wayne.

Mind you, I have nothing against Wayne, but I grew up watching Clint’s westerns and Dirty Harry.

RedCrow on August 31, 2012 at 6:30 PM

A mean-spirited empty chair…could there be a better metaphor for the pResident?

Obama was actually foolish enough to respond to Clint with a twitter pic. He got under Barky’s skin.

Well done Mr Eastwood. Well done sir.

jrgdds on August 31, 2012 at 6:31 PM

If he was going to go all out like that, I SOOO would have loved to hear – after he said that “WE own this country” –

“Mr. President, GET OFF OUR LAWN!”

cane_loader on August 31, 2012 at 6:35 PM

If he was going to go all out like that, I SOOO would have loved to hear – after he said that “WE own this country” –

“Mr. President, GET OFF OUR LAWN!”

Take a look at this. THIS .(from Ace’s place.)

jrgdds on August 31, 2012 at 6:41 PM

I’m 68 and I approve Clint’s message and performance.

GaltBlvnAtty on August 31, 2012 at 5:43 PM

I thought it was very good!..The “empty chair” was a brilliant idea!..:)

Dire Straits on August 31, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Fixed!..:)

Dire Straits on August 31, 2012 at 6:43 PM

The Little Man Who Wasn’t There, Seated on His Empty Chair
(with apologies to Hughes Mearns)

Yesterday, upon the stage,
There sat a chair in silent rage
That quivered when Clint said, “You know,
If you can’t do the job, you go.”

The queerest thing about that chair
The more you looked the less was there.
“This chair is occupied!” said Barr,
But when you looked no one was there.
Text away, text away, O Great Preezy One,
Text away, text away, just make sure you’re gone.

An empty suit, an empty chair,
A little man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh, how we hope he goes away.

de rigueur on August 31, 2012 at 6:51 PM

cane_loader on August 31, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Good to see you!..Hope all is well for you and your family..:)

Dire Straits on August 31, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Re: Clint’s “rambling,” I remember his recent Academy Award appearances for Oscars for lifetime and for film (forget which one, the Japanese Iwo Jima film or the Sean Penn film) and he was JUST AS RAMBLING. Funny, didn’t bother anyone in the Academy, guess because ALL his stars were superlibs like Penn.

Heh.

Meantime, seniors get the jokes, indies get the jokes, hip Pubs get the jokes (WTF is it with Steve Schmidt on MSNBC!??)….and even Obama gets the jokes – see the tweet “this chair is taken.” Jerkoff, oops, sorry, jackwagon…..

ex Dem from Miami on August 31, 2012 at 7:07 PM

Clint Eastwood is much admired. Everyone knows he is really old now and I think he can get away with anything and be cool. The RNC was lucky to get him no matter what.

cheetah2 on August 31, 2012 at 7:10 PM

cheetah2 on August 31, 2012 at 7:10 PM

I really didn’t like the idea of a celeb speaking at the convention, and especially in such a prominent role. But that was before I saw his routine. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think that he may have gotten through to a number of undecided folks who saw him.

MJBrutus on August 31, 2012 at 7:17 PM

Clint Eastwood is much admired. Everyone knows he is really old now and I think he can get away with anything and be cool. The RNC was lucky to get him no matter what.

cheetah2 on August 31, 2012 at 7:10 PM

I wonder how many people tuned in last night just because they had heard Clint Eastwood would be there.

The oh so serious media in their self important outrage can complain that Eastwood took the attention away from Romney. But I doubt that very much. My guess is a lot more people were watching Romney and Rubio last night because of Clint Eastwood..and while the media might be incapable of watching Eastwood and paying attention to the Romney speech, I doubt very much if the American people are. They can chew gum and walk at the same time.

Terrye on August 31, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Morning Spew adds this:

What is most humorous is that by presenting in a seemingly unscripted manner, Eastwood masterfully uses his craft to interact with all voters in a playful, personal way and squarely hits his mark.

And this analysis hits the mark.

VorDaj on August 31, 2012 at 7:33 PM

Morning Spew adds this:

What is most humorous is that by presenting in a seemingly unscripted manner, Eastwood masterfully uses his craft to interact with all voters in a playful, personal way and squarely hits his mark.

Talent hits a target others can’t hit. Genius hits a target others can’t even see.

VorDaj on August 31, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Clint may be old, but he’s not stupid.

chumpThreads on August 31, 2012 at 4:34 PM

And yet all last night, and all day today, your panicked friends on the Left have all been calling him “senile”. Just did a Google search using the keywords “Clint Eastwood Senile”, and I got over 4,000 results in the past 24 hours alone.

Some examples?

“The Good, The Bad, and The Senile”

“Senile Bigot” (Algore’s Current TV called him that)

“One Senile Motherf***er”

“Clint Eastwood Sh*ts Pants, Drools”

A poster on another forum made this interesting observation:

Seniors may wonder if this is how the “bureaucratic panels” of Obamacare will evaluate their intellect and mental acuity, once they’re in charge of health care.

The Babbling Leftist Outrage over Clint’s performance last night has been delicious to watch.

Del Dolemonte on August 31, 2012 at 7:43 PM

Eastwooding.

nor on August 31, 2012 at 7:50 PM

I suppose there are many ways President Obama could have responded to Mr. Eastwood. A gracious president would have undoubtedly congratulated Mr. Eastwood on the presentation such as it was, with the viral hit it has now become. A smart president may have avoided it altogether, just ignore it and walk away. Yet, here we have the power-hungry, government-in-charge President Obama who has the audacity to proclaim: “That seat is taken.”

Thank you, Mr. Eastwood, for showing the country the true nature of our current president.

Turtle317 on August 31, 2012 at 8:03 PM

So Eastwood got under Obama’s thin skin. Now that ought to be the real story.

SC.Charlie on August 31, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Eastwood didn’t ramble anymore than Obama does all the time. Uh, ah, ah, ah, uh, ah, ah, uh. Sound familiar? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

I thought he was funny.

magicbeans on August 31, 2012 at 8:42 PM

Clint got some great lines in there…

We OWN this country.
Gotta let him go.
He’s a nice guy, but maybe not so nice…those ads.
National disgrace.

And it was all done with humor!

monalisa on August 31, 2012 at 8:53 PM

An empty chair for an empty suit. Appropriate.

IrishEyes on August 31, 2012 at 8:53 PM

I pretty much got my 11 minutes worth of yuks. I thought it was highly creative for him to act out his speech points rather than deliver them in the traditional way. Makes it so much more memorable. This should become an RNC tradition and it can be done in so many different ways.

stukinIL4now on August 31, 2012 at 9:13 PM

I thought Clint was great! Has someone else already posted that the teleprompter broke so he had to do this extemporaneous?

avagreen on August 31, 2012 at 9:39 PM

The Babbling Leftist Outrage over Clint’s performance last night has been delicious to watch.

Del Dolemonte on August 31, 2012 at 7:43 PM

Ain’t it the truth? Heh!
If he was such a fuddy duddy, why all the foaming spit being thrown out?

Demented I say.

LOL!

avagreen on August 31, 2012 at 9:47 PM

Good to see you!..Hope all is well for you and your family..:)

Dire Straits on August 31, 2012 at 6:51 PM

OT:

Thanks… I’ve been scarce all summer. Our whole community has been looking for our local girl, Mickey Shunick, since she disappeared while riding her bike home on May 19. I spent all my time posting on another blog trying to help find her, as well as searching for her myself on foot and with my boat. That’s why I haven’t been on Hot Air.

She fought for her life against the serial killer who kidnapped her, and the stab wounds she inflicted on him started a chain of events that led to his arrest and conviction. He was sent to Angola Prison in Louisiana two weeks ago after pleading guilty to her murder, and that of a mother he killed in 1999. 91 days from her disappearance until the killer went prison for life, no parole. That’s justice in Louisiana. Quick.

5’1″ girl stopped a 220-pound serial killer. He killed her and buried her in an old cemetery. He confessed and led police to her body.

The whole story is here.

It was on national news.

Brave girl. Fought until the very end. Took down a killer.

R.I.P., Mickey Shunick, age 21.

cane_loader on August 31, 2012 at 10:20 PM

What Clint Eastwood did was deliver the “Daisy Ad”. It will have a bigger negative impact for Obama than pundits realize. And they won’t understand why.

BDU-33 on September 1, 2012 at 12:29 AM

As usual, the point of Eastwood went over the Left/Media’s heads. His message wasn’t so subtle, but the entire point of having him wasn’t his message, it was bringing in extra viewers.

The Left/Media think they are oh-so-bright, yet time after time they demonstrate they can’t comprehend the simplest ideas outside their narrow ideological mindset.

The good news is these sort of people are rarely people who matter – in our lives, to our country, or to human history – except when some cosmic electoral Chaos Theory grants them public office for a time. It’s meant to be a lesson. Learn it.

Adjoran on September 1, 2012 at 12:44 AM

As usual, the point of Eastwood went over the Left/Media’s heads. His message wasn’t so subtle, but the entire point of having him wasn’t his message, it was bringing in extra viewers.

Adjoran on September 1, 2012 at 12:44 AM

One point of Eastwood I think the Left/Media did get was… it was Eastwood. A Hollywood and an American icon. A more enduring cultural figure than any politician in our generation besides Reagan. Live. On national television. Pwning the President.

No amount of advertising money could buy that. The $100 million Obama spent trying to tear down Romney was undone in a single 10-minute tv appearance by The Man With No Name (well, and by Ryan, Rubio, and Romney himself… but it took them longer).

From what I read of the blogs and pundits as today wore on, I think the Left has begun to realize that.

de rigueur on September 1, 2012 at 1:47 AM

Finally saw the speech on cspan.org and I loved it. He was a little off on his comedic timing with the chair, but he’s Clint goddamn Eastwood not Bob Newhart. Otherwise it struck me as genuine, speaking to the independent who feels bad about not voting for Obama, and I agree with everyone who said the libs are off their nut if they mock this. Clint is an icon and the empty chair meme is too suggestive of reality.

evergreen on September 1, 2012 at 2:21 AM

I liked it. Yeah, it took me about 30 seconds into it to figure what was going on but then? It was all good.

athenadelphi on September 1, 2012 at 2:56 AM

I haven’t seen Juan Williams and Gerald so peturbed in years!!!! They had that same look they had when Rev. Wright went balistic!

DanaSmiles on September 1, 2012 at 6:39 AM

I saw most of it, and the fact Obama had to deign to reply, with his petty little snark… “This chair is taken”…

Obama’s such an a$$hole. He never fails to reveal just how ignorant he really is, and in this case,how he can’t keep his mouth shut. What a humorless, soulless $onovab1tch he is.

DevilsPrinciple on September 1, 2012 at 10:12 AM

The boy king has suffered a puncture wound. His ego is reeling.

rickyricardo on September 1, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Empty suit, empty seat, now empty your desk ‘O’ and move back to your empty house in Chicago.

j bo on September 1, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Eastwood’s performance was the stuff worthy of derision.

Just stick to the message. Obama’s already shown he can’t do the job. You don’t need to invent stuff and be vulgar to drive the point home. All Eastwood did was to hurt the conservatives’ cause.

oakland on September 1, 2012 at 7:43 PM

Xerxes the god-king was wounded by the Clint spear…his empire is crumbling as we speak

MechEng5by5 on September 2, 2012 at 12:31 AM

Comment pages: 1 3 4 5