Dispatches From the Republican National Convention

Clint Eastwood’s “Speech” Was a Bad Wedding Toast
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Aug. 31 2012 1:00 AM

Dispatches From the Republican National Convention

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Enough Romney. Let’s talk about Clint Eastwood.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Fellas,

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

So. About Clint Eastwood.

I have no idea how that speech played for TV audiences. I watched it in the space between the Nevada and the Tennessee delegate sections. Before the director of Changeling spoke, these folks craned their necks, watching the section on the far right (stage right) of the stage get chained off for ... something. 

"It's Clint Eastwood!" said one delegate.

"No, I heard it's hologram Elvis!" joked another. 

But the special sequestering was for Romney, not Eastwood. The actor emerged in front of a Man With No Name silhouette drawn across a generic sun-bleached landscape, and started muttering. And kept on muttering. You've been to weddings, right, where the best man starts getting too real, and less funny than he thinks, but everyone's instinct is to root for him and try to find humor? That was what happened.

Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood address a chair that he pretends has President Obama in it.

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post for Getty Images.

It might be a mistake to seek meaning from that speech, but Eastwood's ramble came off like a slightly bored swing voter's reasons for rejecting Obama. He was happy that Obama won, but then he realized that lots of people were unemployed. He didn't understand why Obama surged in Afghanistan, when he could have said, "let's leave today"—a position Mitt Romney does not even hold. 

I'm spinning this harder than Romney's own campaign team, who stood in that ad hoc hallway and looked increasingly fed up as Eastwood kept talking. They must have realized that an epic moment was occurring, and in the Twitter track/viral/LOL media it would overshadow Romney.

It certainly overshadowed him in this post! I thought Romney did just fine. Every delegate I talked to on the way out of the speech focused on his call-back to Barack Obama's 2008 line "this was the moment when the oceans began to roll back." It sounded pompous at the time; it sounds worse now. Delegates largely read this as a joke about Obama's pretentiousness, not as some joke at the expense of global warming or doomed floodplain denizens.

Dave

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage from the GOP convention.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.