The 2008 hit Gran Torino was probably one of the best movies of the past decade. The film featured superstar Clint Eastwood in a touching story about the difficulty of cross-generational relations, gentrification, and racial stereotypes. I bring this up to demonstrate that I do have respect for Clint – despite last night’s awkward performance
A little background: Clint Eastwood is more of a libertarian than a party-line Republican. He supports LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, and a Ron Paulesque foreign policy. However, his support for cutting social insurance programs and slashing taxes for the wealthy does fuel his adoration for the GOP.
Therefore, he was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention, in hopes of getting the audience ready for presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s closing speech. However, in an awkward mixture of improv comedy and political rhetoric, the act failed. The entire premise rested upon Clint Eastwood having a hypothetical debate with “Invisible Obama”, sitting in a nearby chair.
The Twitter universe in particular exploded with some pretty great reactions. Within moments, an account called @InvisibleObama had been created with the default picture of a wooden chair. My personal favorite, however, came from Jamelle Bouie:
This is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama.
In terms of analysis, I think I entirely agree with Alyssa Rosenberg:
One way to see Eastwood’s routine, then, isn’t that he bombed. It’s that he was doing he was doing the wrong kind of performance on the wrong kind of stage. In a certain sense, that shouldn’t be surprising. Though Eastwood isn’t shy about expressing his political views, and was once mayor of a small town in California, he isn’t a politician. First and foremost, Clint Eastwood is an artist and an entertainer. And the two types approach public performance in very different ways.
Eastwood is a legendary actor, with a fittingly legendary history. However, he is not a politician, nor does he know what is appropriate for a political event. “Go ahead”, Clint, “make my day”, and stick to Hollywood.