When I first tuned in the other day to watch the iconic actor Clint Eastwood liven up the Republican convention, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, he’s a Libertarian-leaning legend that even the left embraces. (Remember the Super Bowl pro-auto bailout ad? The mainstream press drooled in approval). Sure, he’s a laconic, unapologetic badass who, 50 years after swaggering Rowdy Yates, exudes a timeless sex appeal.
But whatever I expected, what I saw wasn’t it. His awkward lapses and rambling were reminders of an octogenarian showing signs of his advancing years. I mean, what in the hell was he getting at by talking to an invisible Obama? The convention attendees loved it; Ann Romney did not. The thought purveyors howled in mock horror how it distracted and detracted from Mitt Romney’s big night. It was, by most accounts, an unmitigated disaster.
The press and Hollywood ridiculed Eastwood as an old fool, a disrespectful old fool at that. Not surprisingly, their characterizations were callously filled with less-than-subtle references to his age:
Roger Ebert (film reviewer): “Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic. He didn’t need to do this to himself. It’s unworthy of him.”
Zach Braff (actor): “Breaking: Clint Eastwood to tell kids to ‘get off his lawn!'”
Star Jones, (“Today” contributor): “I can’t believe I just watched Clint Eastwood turn into somebody’s DRUNK UNCLE HARRY…He humiliated himself.”
So much for compassionate liberals.
Since his appearance, “Eastwooding” has dominated You Tube, Twitter, and literally thousands of internet memes, (though anytime you have Roseanne Barr calling you “cray”—urban-speak for crazy—you know that you must be doing something right). Even the President felt compelled to respond: The next day he tweeted a photo of himself with the caption, “This chair’s taken.”
That was a few days ago, and I’ve taken the time to view Eastwood’s speech once again. At times he stammered and appeared confused, showing that even The Man with No Name is not immortal. This time, however, I came away with a new perspective.
Clint Eastwood is not a crazy old man. Clint Eastwood is crazy like a fox.
Who else but Dirty Harry could so stealthily portray the man who four years ago proclaimed that “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal” as nothing but an empty chair? Obviously, it got under President Obama’s skin, thereby provoking his silly, petty retort.
Eastwood’s performance worked marvelously, proving that while age might be slowing his delivery, his maverick nature is as nimble as ever.
That made my day.