|Clint Eastwood talks to the empty chair at the RNC|
Eastwood was billed as the "mystery guest" for the RNC's last evening, though really the unidentified participant was the occupant of an empty chair placed next to Clint's podium, standing--er, sitting-- in for President Obama. Eastwood then carried on a natural-sounding one-sided interview, in which Clint raised amused eyebrows by responding to the chair, "What's that? No, I couldn't do that to myself..." Later in the talk he paused and asked, "What do you want me to tell Mitt Romney?" A beat. "No, I can't tell him that! I can't tell him to do that to himself! You're absolutely crazy. You're getting as bad as Biden!" The crowd went wild. He added, "Of course, we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic party. Not much more than a grin with a body behind it." The cheers continued.
Eastwood is a Hollywood icon, worthy of respect for his varied and extensive resume, but lib reporters didn't hesitate to skewer him. He's 82 and seems slightly frail, but his mind and mouth are fully functional. He challenged listeners to consider Obama's failures, including Guantanamo's not-quite-closure, the lack of jobs, spilling the target date for withdrawal from Afghanistan. Nobody expected stand-up comedy in the Convention, much less from Clint Eastwood, but coming right before Marco Rubio's introduction of Romney, Eastwood's humor relaxed the mood.
Media reactions by like-minded liberal reporters for the major TV networks, watching together in their aerie, reinforced each other. Sure, the 12 million viewing at home on their computers and TVs could form their own opinions, but the rest of the public, and that's the bulk of the population, was handed an opinion it had no way to dispute. Needless to say, Colbert and Stewart had a field day, (and they're the main source of news to college students) but that's to be expected. Jay Leno chimed in, calling the appearance "bizarre." Rachel Maddow called it "the weirdest thing I've ever seen at a political convention," and "a political disaster" for Republicans. Roger Ebert called it "sad and pathetic." By far the most common term for the sketch was "rambling." That's a pejorative when applied to an elderly person, btw.
|Romneys and Ryans (right) applaud Marco Rubio|
After Eastwood, Marco Rubio wow'd the crowd with his punchy, powerful delivery, introducing Mitt Romney who worked his way shaking hands down a side aisle to the stage. An earlier series of videos and testimonials by people helped or touched by Romney primed delegates and friends, who received him with near-reverence, though his humility disarmed that quickly. Mitt was personal and intimate, direct and dynamic, and by the time balloons dropped from overhead nets and confetti wafted onto participants, the jubilant group was positive their man would beat his failed opponent.
|Balloon drop after Mitt Romney's speech a the RNC|
But we partisans had a great time, because we realized that Romney got it. The "it" is not just the plight of thwarted citizens prevented from ease or encouragement in business, home-buying, tuition-paying or child-rearing. "It" is that Romney knows how to communicate his superiority as a candidate; he knows the questions to ask, and the insecurities to tap. Romney has clearly been a super-achiever, turning around companies and the Olympics and even public opinion after his 2008 primary losses. And his tenacity, commitment and record combine to fuel enormous relief and optimism that he can turn around our nation, and turn it away from the grim and dour "we need more time; we need more of your money" we keep hearing from the White House.
(All the photos in this post are mine, taken from my seat in the Tampa Times Forum during the convention proceedings.)