Clint Eastwood's pick for president may surprise you

Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood was interviewed by the executive editor of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. On Friday the piece was published as The Weekend Interview in the Wall Street Journal. The interview took a newsworthy twist when the topic of politics came up. Eastwood is supporting Michael Bloomberg.

Say it ain’t so, Clint.

It seems Mr. Eastwood is joining the ranks of other Hollywood movers and shakers in support of Bloomberg. Bloomberg began courting voters in California back in December, focusing on smaller cities and their mayors instead of large cities like Los Angeles. Perhaps Bloomberg appeals to Eastwood as a former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea. He handily won that election 2,166 votes to 799 and only served one two-year term. He didn’t seek re-election because “You can’t have the same old people in office all the time.” I might suggest that he was ready to get back to his regular day job after a two-year break but maybe that’s just me.

Eastwood is one of those rare Republicans in Hollywood and he doesn’t shy away from saying so. He’s actually more libertarian but he votes Republican. Remember his famous appearance at the 2012 RNC convention where he did a bit where he talked to an empty chair on stage? He strongly opposed everything about Barack Obama and his administration. He also refused to support Hillary Clinton though the majority of Hollywood did. In 2016 he supported Donald Trump because, he said, Hillary promised to be Obama’s third term.

During a speech in August 2016, he appeared to express his plans to vote for Trump, saying, “I’d have to go for Trump… you know, ’cause [Hillary’s] declared that she’s gonna follow in Obama’s footsteps.”

So, it is logical to assume that Eastwood would support Trump in 2020, right? Wrong, as it turns out. Eastwood even justifies his turn away from Trump as many Never-Trump Republicans do – he criticizes Trump’s demeanor and personality, not his policies. Trump’s a meanie or something.

As for the domestic political scene, Mr. Eastwood seems disheartened. “The politics has gotten so ornery,” he says, hunching his shoulders in resignation. He approves of “certain things that Trump’s done” but wishes the president would act “in a more genteel way, without tweeting and calling people names. I would personally like for him to not bring himself to that level.” As he drives me back to my hotel, he expresses an affinity for another former mayor: “The best thing we could do is just get Mike Bloomberg in there.”

As an exercise in whataboutism, we need only to take a quick scan of Bloomberg’s Twitter feed to see that his tweets are no better than Trump’s when it comes to tone and name-calling. Just yesterday a tweet was posted that awards Trump as an outstanding Russian patriot. It describes Trump as a Russian asset, which at this point, is just lame. Trump has been harder on the Russians by way of sanctions than any of his predecessors.

And, we can’t forget a favorite jab at Trump by Team Bloomberg – he calls him “a carnival barking clown.” How’s that for genteel?

Eastwood calls himself more libertarian than Republican but how does that square with his support of Bloomberg? Eastwood says California is “like Regulation City right now”. Trump has delivered on his promise to undo many of the regulations that the Obama administration leveled on American businesses and in government policies. Bloomberg is the guy who micro-managed New Yorkers to the point of taking away their sugary drinks and Big Gulps. He’s ready to usher in climate change regulations that will cripple the energy industry and the economy. And Bloomberg is a gun-grabber. He funds Everytown for Gun Safety. How does an anti-Second Amendment candidate square with Eastwood?

Mr. Eastwood describes himself as a libertarian—“somebody who has respect for other people’s ideas and is willing to learn constantly.” He is, he says, always in “a state of evolution,” and he comes across in conversation as much more nuanced than the hypermasculine roles he’s played in films from “Dirty Harry” (1971) to “Gran Torino” (2008).

Yet his voice is the same—that unmistakable tenor that lends itself as easily on screen to flirtation as to husky menace. He talks avidly about some of his films, including “Gran Torino,” which he produced and directed. His character, Walt Kowalski, is a cantankerous Korean War veteran who hates his Hmong neighbors in a rundown inner Detroit suburb. He agrees that the film has a certain relevance in Mr. Trump’s America, where everyone is “pairing off for adversity.”

I just don’t get how any libertarian could support Bloomberg. Yet, here we are.

In a totally predictable move, however, another Hollywood legend is announcing his endorsement. Dick Van Dyke is endorsing Bernie Sanders. Van Dyke is now 94 years old and doesn’t understand why more old folks aren’t jumping on the Bernie bandwagon. He wants them to do so.

Just a guess, Mr. Van Dyke, but I would assume more of the old people in your generation aren’t supporting Bernie because they understand and remember the failures of socialism. The greatest generation is no doubt aghast at even the thought of ushering in socialism and destroying the very freedoms they fought for so heroically in their day.

To quote Mary Tyler Moore from her role as his wife on the Dick Van Dyke Show, “Oh, Rob.”