No one can honestly say Clint Eastwood isn’t a great actor.
Nor can they say he’s a bad director. He has acted in, directed, produced, produced
music for, or even three all four of those, in seven movies in just the last four
years. His most recent interviews have shown him to be sharp, eloquent, and
engaged. If you saw Gran Torino in
the theater, you could watch a movie he wrote, directed, produced, and made
music for, and watch a trailer for an upcoming movie he directed and produced. His
brain is fully functioning.
So, why and how did his speech at the RNC seem so… rambling, unfocused, edgy, and odd? If we KNOW he’s mentally all there, what
was he doing? If we assume he was doing exactly
what he intended to do, what was he intending?
I think that the republican base is going to vote for Mitt,
some enthusiastically, some holding their nose, but they’ll vote for him
none-the-less. The Dem base will likewise vote for O. No-one on a national
stage will convince that 90% of the electorate of anything different, only
personal experience or epiphany will change anything for them. I think he’s
smart enough to know that, so he wasn’t talking to any of them. He’s an actor and director – focusing on reaching the target audience is what he does.
But, if the R convention attendees and typical convention watchers and committed D or R voters are not his audience, then who was he speaking
to? Perhaps it was the very-low-information voter, the apolitical working-stiff,
the disengaged voter, who recognizes a movie star but has nary a clue who their rep
or senator is, who ANY of the SCOTUS are, and don’t normally watch conventions.
Perhaps he chose to speak in a way that makes all the well-scripted speakers and high-information voters cringe, but in a way that
was different, weird, and odd, but also put humor and the strange right next to the
hard-hitting stuff, so when it got played and replayed and discussed by various
folks in all sorts of outlets, both by those who agree AND those who disagree,
it will get those fundamental facts, like highlighting there are 23,000,000
unemployed, out to many of those low-info voters, and will sway them. It got
the movie-going-but-not-political voter to tune in, and stay and watch Rubio. It
created an instant icon for the politically-absent president, the empty chair. He used unexpected and oblique off-color humor that perfectly captured the essence of the trash-talking Chicago bully in the White House. It
is possible, when we look back on that moment three months from now, that it
will be seen as an absolutely brilliant piece of seeming scatter-brained-improve
that shifted that all-important indecisive, low-information, non-ideological
middle, the folks that vote with their hearts but not their brains. Either that, or it’s one of the fasted pieces of rapid-onset dementia