The Republican National Committee popped a quick one into Clint Eastwood’s temple Thursday night, then made a quick getaway within moments of his seemingly-botched “speech” in the final hour of the Republican National Convention. Apparently, they felt that they deserved better, even though two of their key darlings and All About Eve-rs – Chris Christie and Marco Rubio- barely even mentioned Romney in their own speeches.
Sure, Eastwood is an A-list star and has been for decades now, but they stacked a pretty tall political order on the shoulders of an 82-year-old man, even if he was nonpartisan mayor of Carmel, California for two years.
The haste with which some Republicans drew fire on Eastwood reminds me of the business relationship between Darren Tate and Larry Stevens from the 1960s TV-show, “Bewitched”. Tate was Stevens’ boss in the world of advertising. Together, they’d enter a meeting with a client – Tate all smiles and positivity, enamored with the campaign Stevens had dreamed up and confident that the business was in the bag.
The moment the client expressed dissatisfaction with Stevens’ idea, Tate turned on him like a pit bull, tearing him to shreds right in front of the client and demanding that he come up with something new on the spot.
Why exactly was Eastwood there, anyway? What did the party leaders expect of him? Was he supposed to show up as Dirty Harry and save them from the psychopathic regime of Barack Obama? If you give a surgeon a knife, he will want to use it. If you give an artist a stage, they’ll use it like a stage and create art. That’s exactly what Eastwood did.
If those turncoat Republicans had viewed his presentation more as a performance than a speech, they may have felt better about it. The problem is theirs: they confused the film characters Eastwood the actor has created with Eastwood the man, who is -first and foremost – an artist.
That’s what I saw last night: a crowd-pleasing actor, filmmaker, writer, jazz musician, doing what he was born to do: create something from nothing. You can’t really blame the Republicans, having long ago gutted funding for the arts; some of them simply couldn’t recognize an artist at work when they saw one. Democrats and the media pundits, on the other hand, should know better.
Wasn’t it clever how Eastwood turned that podium into an instant stage, magically invoking Obama onto it with him? With the simple placement of a chair – VOILA! – here was Barack Obama! Only an Artist, not a professional-liar-of-a-politician, could create such magic.
Being an actor doing improvisation, Eastwood had free reign to create Obama how he wanted him to be. In this case, he concocted a wise-cracking, foul-mouthed inept who started out with good intentions, but then, because he couldn’t get the job done, needed to relinquish it to someone else. That was Eastwood’s choice as an artist.
Don’t worry, Clint. At least one person understands what you were doing. You were using your craft to convey your disenchantment and broken-heartedness over what our country has become. But that’s not the fault of one man, our President Obama. I know you know that. I saw you get misty when you reminded the country of our 23 million unemployed Americans. They say you got that number wrong, but really, what difference does it make? The mist in your eyes told the true story.
Eastwood is an old-school Republican – moderate, reasonable. He seems a dinosaur in this 21st–century Republican Party. He used humor and theater to convey his message. That’s what an artist would do. In the process, he got to experience first-hand what his party has largely become: mean-spirited backstabbers who lie just as easily as they breathe.
In an otherwise anemic, barb-wired Republican convention, Eastwood’s is quite possibly the only performance that stood out. But that’s what art does, doesn’t it? It wrests us from our somnambulance and makes us feel something.
I got it, Clint. I got it. And, by the way, you made my day.