I grew up watching Dirty Harry and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly at my grandparents house when they ran as Sunday afternoon movies. I’m sure that’s the source of my deep, abiding love of Clint Eastwood as an actor. For my money, Gran Torino is probably one of the best movies made in the last twenty years and that earned him my respect for his abilities as a director. When they announced him as a speaker in prime time at the Republican National Convention, I was eager to see what he’d have to say. After all, the Republican Party as an enduring soft spot for the occasional conservative actor. They’ve done pretty well by us in the past.
As much as I was ready to love whatever he had to say, the reality of the thing was just painful to watch. The meandering, stilted speech wasn’t even in the same arena as what I expected. In another context, with another delivery, by someone other than Clint Eastwood, the conversation with “the invisible president” could possibly have worked. The worst part of it all was inside that hot mess was a kernel of what could have been a great and electrifying speech. As it was, the moment just left me wondering if I was watching an iconic actor have a mental break on live national television. By the end, all I could think of was please sweet baby Jesus, turn on the teleprompter and let the guy get back on script, in thy infinite mercy.
The days when nominees aren’t known until the convention meets are long gone and not likely to return, but last night proved that interesting things can still happen when a political party gathers all its sons and daughters into the tent. This particular prodigal son could have done without last night’s added drama.