Several days later, the Clint Eastwood speech at the Republican National Convention is still bugging me.
At first the whole talking-to-an-empty chair thing was just bewildering. Apparently an imaginary Barack Obama heckled Eastwood throughout his rambling, incoherent speech, repeatedly telling him to shut up. That by itself would have been odd, as I can’t say as I’ve ever heard the President tell anyone to shut up. I suppose he’s done it, but it seems more like Bill O’Reilly’s thing.
Far more chilling was the spirit of Ralph Ellison invoked by the stunt. Black people have gone from not being seen when they are there to being seen when they aren’t. That’s a funny kind of progress.
Overall the experience just made me sad. I’ve enjoyed Eastwood’s work in the past, even admired some of it. But here he was clearly trotted out by the GOP with the cynical supposition that no matter what he said, his remarks would still serve as a rallying point for the party faithful. Mission accomplished. I posted a dig on Facebook about the difference between Eastwood’s notion of who owns America and what the Constitution says on the subject. It drew an “I liked his speech” from an acquaintance who sports hunter orange in his avatar photo.
The most telling moment: when even Eastwood wouldn’t stoop to uttering the line for which the crowd so deeply lusted: the Reagan-co-opted line from Sudden Impact. Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle raised the only question worth pondering about this legendary moment: why the hell would a handful of heavily-armed criminals just sit there gawking while Dirty Harry reached into his jacket to draw out his trusty hand cannon? “Do 50 bullets in your ass make your day?”
Do you feel lucky? Well do you, RNC?