Clint Eastwood steals the RNC

In a decade to come, there's only one speech from this convention we'll all remember

Topics: Clint Eastwood, RNC, Republican National Convention, Republican convention,

When it leaked earlier today that Clint Eastwood would be the “surprise” guest at the Republican National Convention, it seemed predictable that a bunch of white people in patriotic hats would shortly be chanting “Make my day” on national television.  This cacophonous “Make my day” did, in fact, come to pass, but only after the 82-year-old Eastwood babbled, went blue and inadvertently insulted Mitt Romney, the guy he was allegedly there to support, all while speaking to an empty chair occupied by an imaginary Obama. Look, it is not every night that a national political convention transforms itself into a surrealist farce after being hijacked by a madcap octogenarian, but tonight it happened, and we have Clint Eastwood to thank for that. Once an entertainer, always an entertainer, right?

Eastwood, ever the actor, turned his speech into a performance. After taking to the stage in front of a silhouette from his Sergio Leone movies, cautioning the cheering crowd to “Save a little for Mitt,” shouting out Jon Voight, and maybe insulting Oprah, he explained that sitting in the chair up onstage with him was an invisible Obama, whom he would now interrogate. “So Mr. President, how do you handle promises you made when you were running for election?” Clint asked, with much more mumbling and bumbling than that. After a few more inquiries, the invisible Obama— and, yes, 100 percent, Ralph Ellison is currently doing double-back-flip round-offs in his grave — was apparently reduced to spewing out insults. “I can’t tell [Mitt] to do that!” Eastwood said in response to an alleged quip from Obama. “He can’t do that to himself! You’re getting as bad as Biden!” Never let it be said you can’t tell someone to fuck off on national television — just so long as you bring your imaginary friend.

For whatever reason — Clint Eastwood is Dirty Harry, basically — the crowd was with him for the entire performance, even though less than halfway through it must have been clear he was hijacking the entire convention. (In 10 years, this is the speech we will remember.) This encouraged Eastwood, and as his talk ambled on and on, he adopted more and more the demeanor of the irascible and roguish movie star. What Clint was doing would have been perfect for one of those awards show where there’s no press allowed, but not so much for national television. He was playing to the room, to the sense that he was among his people, among friends, but with no awareness that other, less friendly eyes might be watching. In doing so, he hung his friends out to dry: The audience’s willingness to humor him, to just revel in being near a movie star, exposed them as sycophants.



Crazier still — if anything can get crazier than Clint Eastwood having a made-up conversation with an invisible president — was that Eastwood wasn’t actually hewing all that closely to Republican talking points. Eastwood thinks Obama shouldn’t close down Gitmo, not because it’s essential to national security, but because “we’ve spent so much money on that.” OK! Eastwood harshed on Obama for not “consulting the Russians” about getting involved in Afghanistan as though Obama started that war. He took shots at the president for driving around in a gas-guzzling jet when he’s supposed to be “ecological,” as though Republicans believe climate change is a real thing. He insulted Obama for being a lawyer, forgetting that Romney has a law degree too.

Right before Eastwood got the crowd to chant “Make my day!” with him, he warned the room, “We don’t have to be mental masochists and vote for someone we don’t really want in office because they seem like nice guys.” Which candidate was he talking about? No one in the room — the only audience he seemed keyed in to —  was ever considering voting for Obama, or thinks he’s much of a nice guy. Sorry, Mitt, Clint Eastwood just made everybody else’s day.

Willa Paskin

Willa Paskin is Salon's staff TV writer.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>