If the Republican National Convention was GOP Christmas, then Clint Eastwood and his chair played the role of the rambling uncle that needed to be put to bed hours ago. Eastwood's role as the "mystery guest" wasn't a surprise to anyone yesterday, hopes were high thanks in part to his riveting "Halftime in America"-like speech.
"So much better than hologram Reagan," we all thought. Well, this happened:
And here are the reactions:
Barack Obama, President of the United States:
"Clint Eastwood Offers Off-Script Moment," The Wall Street Journal's Elizabeth Williamson:
Suggesting in his imagined conversation that Mr. Obama was making profane remarks, the 82-year old actor implied that lawyers weren’t suited to be president, though both Mr. Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are Harvard-trained lawyers.
Mr. Eastwood also appeared to misrepresent Mr. Romney’s position on Afghanistan, suggesting that he wants to bring the troops home tomorrow.
"In the Line of Fire: The Clint Eastwood Train Wreck,"Time's Michael Grunwald:
Wow. This was not the bad-ass Clint from Unforgiven. This wasn’t even the get-the-hell-off-my-lawn Clint from Gran Torino. This was a rambling old dude with no teleprompter, wandering off message, rambling to an empty chair, ignoring the blinking red light telling him to get the hell off the stage. “And I thought, yeah, I am not going to shut up,” he muttered at one point. “It’s my turn.
"ENTER CLINT, RAMBLING," The New Yorker's Amy Davidson:
To clarify, it was the chair that told him to shut up, not Ann Romney, though she may have wanted to; Paul Ryan looked like he did.
The Romney team probably guessed that it would all end with an injunction to make his day, but did they also foresee the resulting sketch of a certain Republican-leaning sensibility: careless with facts, grumpy, xenophobic, scornful, more isolationist than its establishment realizes, and on the verge of assuming a stance of threat. Also: not clever about women, or the limits of their patience, and pleased with itself to the point of rattling distraction. Does Mitt realize what he has done—does he ever have a sense of the beliefs and intentions of those around him, and the ones he ingratiatingly adopts—and how quickly a crowd, and an election, can turn?
"The Next President," Redstate's Erick Erickson
It was entertaining, but it was weird. Many Democrats are scratching their heads wondering what the heck that was. I’ll tell you what it was. It was the unscripted conversation of an independent voter coming to terms with the end of the Obama love affair.
That speech may not resonate inside the beltway, but it resonates in Ohio and Florida and Wisconsin and other swing states. Clint Eastwood made people comfortable laughing at the President and Joe Biden, the great intellect of the Democratic Party, a smile with a body behind it.
I thought it was bizarre. But as a friend pointed out, lots of politically astute people thought Carly Fiorina’s now infamous demonsheep ad was bizarre and it turned out to resonate with people because the bizarreness and unfamiliarity with what they were seeing made them pay attention.
Clint Eastwood did that and it worked.
"The GOP’s Hollywood Fever," The Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg
Republicans seem to be worried that Eastwood’s halting and surreal performance would overshadow Romney’s speech, which, despite the spin, was serviceable at best. If it did, they have only themselves to blame, because despite all their digs at Hollywood, the Republican Party is pitifully in the thrall of celebrity.
"Republican National Convention night 3: Winners and losers," The Washington Post's Chris Cilizza:
* Clint Eastwood: There are no words for what the actor did on the convention stageThursday night. The conceit of an empty chair and an invisible Obama was bad enough. But Eastwood rambled off script repeatedly and he bordered on downright incoherence several times. For a night in which the undercard leading up to the primetime speakers was the best of the three nights, Eastwood was a totally unnecessary distraction that had to leave the Romney convention planners grimacing.
Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic. He didn't need to do this to himself. It's unworthy of him.— Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) August 31, 2012
CNN/The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz:
There is a reason conventions are scripted. Clint's empty chair act weirdest convention moment I have ever seen.— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) August 31, 2012