Like all of we political wonks, I was watching the last night of the Republican convention taking in lie after lie in what has become a litany of lies directed at President Obama and anyone associated with him.
And then something very odd happened. Right around 9 PM local time, as they were gearing up to welcome the Mittster to the arena, the lights dimmed and out came a cultural icon from the 60’s and 70’s, none other than former Mayor of Carmel, California, Clint Eastwood.
He had to be there as a politician, right? Not there to shoot the breeze, not when the convention time was cut by an entire day with the passing of a category 2 hurricane.
And then to my shock and chagrin I realized that Eastwood was on stage to run a parody conversation with an empty chair, I guess the nearest thing they could come up with besides an empty suit, the empty chair being occupied by a sitting president: President Barack Hussein Obama.
Amazing, I said to myself. This is the first convention in history to parody the sitting president. The RNC has sunk to a new low and they’ve gotten a cultural icon, Clint Eastwood, to deliver it.
And then Eastwood proceeded not to deliver it. In actual fact it was hugely embarrassing. Not embarrassing for me mind you, I was embarrassed for Clint Eastwood, as probably were a lot of people out in the TV audience.
Not so much in the convention though. As Eastwood stumbled through his vague notion of a script, conventioneers were howling with delight. As I cringed, they crowed and cat-called. I began to really feel sorry for Eastwood, who was clearly fumbling his lines as he struggled to keep with a script that sounded like it was written on a lunch box napkin by a third grader.
I felt sorry for him.
But then I saw this, and I stopped feeling sorry for him.
This gesture, one of simulating a knife being drawn across the throat of a sitting president was met with wild applause, the loudest of the convention, giving Clint all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings.
Dirty Harry stepped over the line.
Here we have a sitting president, whose religion, patriotism, and even his nationality have been called into question, and now we have an aging actor mimicking a presidential assassination at the national convention of the opposing party to the wild approval of the assembled masses.
Then I started to wonder whether the party hacks really did want all of this to happen, and knew that Clint Eastwood would garner some sympathy from viewers due to his age. Now I believe it to be true. Proving to myself that the Republican Party is no party for old men.