So what was that?
It was pure entertainment, that's what it was. Amongst a media event so scripted, it might as well have been overseen by a Hollywood filmmaker, the Republican National Convention brought out an actual Hollywood filmmaker to open an evening of important speeches on its final night. Now laying aside the irony of how the party that chastises "liberal Hollywood" for its dalliances in politics while beatifying the few members of Hollywood out as conservative, I'm sure no one in the Republican National Committee foresaw the events that transpired last night.
Making his entrance like the Hollywood legend that he is, to the tune of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly as if he were about to present an Oscar, the following 12 minutes were as memorizing as they were unexpected.
If you were to tell me that this was some sort of performance art piece, I wouldn't be surprised, but let's assume Mr. Eastwood was in earnest. Firstly, he was only supposed to speak for five minutes, which rather quickly continued on for nearly 12, despite the fact that the blinking red light that was supposed to tell him to wrap it up continued blinking faster and faster till it was a solid red. That takes dedication. Either Eastwood was working on a bit, or he was really in a stew about Barack Obama.
Highlights of Eastwood's speech, which Slate's David Wiegel compared to a drunken best man toast, included reference to Vice-President Joe Biden as a "kind of grin with a body behind it," (whatever that means), and adding about Obama that, "I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to be president" (putting aside the fact that 25 our of 43 presidents have been attorneys and if Mitt Romney wins he'll be number 26).
Eastwood also mocked Obama for correctly wanting to close the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay and for trying accused terrorists in courts in New York City. He also advocating bringing troops home from Afghanistan, a foreign policy stance that's not supported by his man Romney.
In the end, Eastwood finished his speech with the immortal words of "Dirty" Harry Callahan in the film, Sudden Impact, "Go ahead, make my day!" before leaving the stage to the cheers of the deligates. Next up, was Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who no one will remember having said anything despite his place as a respected Republican politician and Tea Party member, and once prospective VP candidate.
You can read Eastwood's whole text here, but you know that whole saying about success having a hundred fathers, but failure is an orphan? Well, it seems to apply here. But the real question is how much of Eastwood's RNC appearance was about making amends. Amends for a certain memorable TV ad that aired during this year's Super Bowl.
Despite it not being even remotely partisan, the commercial was seen by many as such. Republican operative Karl Rove said, "I was, frankly, offended by it. [I]t is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the President of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising and the best-wishes of the management which is benefited by getting a bunch of our money that they'll never pay back."
Putting aside that Fiat paid back all the bail out money last summer, Eastwood himself is what many in his party would call a RINO: Republican In Name Only. He supports gay marriage, contributed to groups advocating for an equal-rights amendment and is an enthusiastic environmentalist. If he was Joe Q. Public, considering attitudes to gay people, women and the environment, Eastwood would have never gotten within the city limits of Tampa, let alone the fact that he's had seven children with five women, only two of them he married, would make the family values gang melt in their shoes.
In essence, Eastwood was being used, and maybe he was in on the joke. Maybe the fact that people are all talking about him versus some of the nonsense that Rubio and Romney talked about was some kind of clever diversion. Or maybe he's just senile, he is 82 after all. For the past decade, Eastwood's put more energy into his directing career than his acting, but maybe last night's speech was to prove that the Man With No Name still has the stuff as a thespian par excellence. At least we hope that's what it is.