I am surprised by the media reaction to Clint Eastwood’s speech at the RNC. Immediately afterwards, I noted the NBC talking heads who said that they did not get it. Since then, there have been a number of news reports and commentaries calling it rambling and just plain weird. Beyond bias, in this case, I find the self-proclaimed fourth estate to be either ignorant or dishonest, and the later seems more likely. More generally, this post is really a contrast to the crap that passes for informed reporting and comment in our media.
In my opinion, Clint Eastwood gave a masterful performance at the RNC. Eastwood was not there to give a dissertation on policy, but to offer a performance to warm up the crowd without overshadowing the headline act. Note Eastwood’s explicit caution to the audience at the beginning to save some of that ardent applause for Romney. Further, when invited to go into a familiar character, he overtly declined as a typical Eastwood performance would have so powerfully eviscerated the Obama Administration that he would have stolen the spotlight for the night.
As an opening act, Eastwood low keyed his performance with a Jimmy Stewart impression; think Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” with his common sense, idealism, and naiveté. Eastwood furthered his homage my channeling Stewart’s performance in “Harvey“, where he performed opposite an invisible rabbit. The cadence and timing used by Eastwood was a pure simple nice guy insightful Jimmy Stewart performance.
I found the symbol of the empty chair representing Obama to be evocative of the empty suit that Obama has been as President during this economic downturn. We have seen this in Obama’s deference to congressional Democrats on policy, which is why the Democratic superdelegates (elected officials) in 2008 selected an inexperienced and weak individual to be their candidate for President. In fact, many of the policies that are blamed on Obama were simply him following the direction set by congressional Democrats; thus, our President has been a patsy.
Further, through his use of humor in the speech, Eastwood played the role of the Shakespearean fool who could speak truth to power and explicate for the audiences’ benefit. In the past, Washington’s political caste was well read in Shakespeare. Perhaps, the punditry should read “King Lear” as it may not have been required in their multicultural literature courses.
Finally, I thought that Eastwood’s awe shucks folksy delivery was very effective at filling Obama with barbs while smiling. Through his performance, it was as if Eastwood was our intimate friend joining us common folk in the jokes that we make every day about our President’s incompetence, ineffectiveness, and apparent disconnect from reality. While Eastwood hit many of the common Obama joke themes, he stayed to official issues and did not hit upon common discussions on suspected brain damage from Obama’s past drug abuse.
Perhaps, the pundits are too “smart” for such vulgar talk and do not understand its import; then again, they may just be dishonest in their professional conduct.