Eastwood And The Divide Between Americans And The Ruling Class
I'm in Colorado right now, which means I got to watch and experience the Republican convention with people who are not political or media professionals or otherwise D.C. insiders. Being here is almost like being in a different country.
When Clint Eastwood mocked President Obama last night, the Colorado folks were on the edge of their seat. They were cheering and clapping and laughing -- laughing really hard. And on my Twitter feed, the political class was angry and immediately derided the speech as something that didn't conform to their expectations of a tightly scripted political event.
Both people saw the same speech, heard the same lines.
On Hollywood's reputation: "There are a lot of conservative people, a lot of moderate people, Republicans, Democrats, in Hollywood. It is just that the conservative people by the nature of the word itself play closer to the vest. They do not go around hot dogging it."
On Obama's victory: "Everybody was crying. Oprah was crying."
On our economic situation: "Twenty-three million unemployed people in this country. Now that is something to cry for because that is a disgrace, a national disgrace, and we haven't done enough, obviously -- this administration hasn't done enough to cure that."
He showed that the Republican Party contains people who are not huge fans of interventionist wars, with his surprisingly popular discussions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He also poked fun at the idea of trying terrorists in the middle of New York City. During his discussion with the Empty Chair Obama, he got a little salty: "And then, I just wondered, all these promises -- I wondered about when the -- what do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. I can't tell him to do that to himself. You're crazy, you're absolutely crazy. You're getting as bad as Biden. Of course we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic Party. Kind of a grin with a body behind it."
He mocked Obama as a hypocrite for claiming to be green while flying a gas guzzling plane around to all the college campuses.
And then he said to the crowd that "we own this country .. not politicians. Politicians are employees of ours. And -- so -- they are just going to come around and beg for votes every few years. It is the same old deal. But I just think it is important that you realize, that you're the best in the world. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you're libertarian or whatever, you are the best. And we should not ever forget that. And when somebody does not do the job, we gotta let them go."
OK, so I'm not going to say that this wasn't a weird speech. It was delightfully weird. But it was also effective among non-D.C. types. He mocked Obama and accused him of things -- hypocrisy, incompetence, mismanagement of wars and terrorism. He also went after the entire political charade -- right there in the middle of the GOP convention! The way politicians just say things to get elected. He told us all - whether we're Democrats or Republicans or libertarians, that we all can come together to get rid of Team Obama.
Now, the political elites freaked out. Absolutely freaked out. The more partisans tried to claim that Clint Eastwood was a vile racist who was evoking Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. All the media shows kept going on and one about how they didn't get it or thought it was awful.
This morning on the local radio, the journalists kept talking about how awful the Clint Eastwood thing was, but what was hilarious was when they talked to normal people -- the folks who called in or whom they were otherwise interviewing -- the people all responded that they thought Eastwood was awesome. One even said he thought Eastwood had made a convincing argument (imagine the pain speechwriters experience when hearing a man on the street say stuff like that). Some were actually confused by the media question built on the premise that Eastwood had done something wrong.
My theory on this is that we have a bunch of Tracy Flick wannabes in our media and political elite. They sit there fantasizing about delivering a stemwinder that transforms the nation. They practice it over and over in their minds and think of themselves as rhetorical geniuses. They watch whatever that Eastwood performance was and they can not compute it. It's racist. It's awful. It's a debacle. It can't be allowed to exist!