Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Dirty Harry's Misfire

Clint Eastwood's odd appearance at the GOP convention threw off the timing of the night and stepped on Romney's acceptance speech.

Dirty Harry's Misfire

Maybe Clint Eastwood is a closet Obama backer who duped the GOP into thinking he’s supporting Romney.

How else to explain the bizarre, distracting, pace-breaking, mood-altering, prime-time act Eastwood put on at the Republican National Convention Thursday night?

At a minimum, his long-winded and often rambling routine involving an empty chair representing Obama skewed the timing of the evening and forced Romney’s acceptance speech past the 11 p.m. hour.

The 82-year old actor Academy Award-winning actor/director (whose later work, especially his 2008 “Gran Torino,” I happen to love) seemed simply out of it for most of his too-long time at the podium.

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His “performance,” with hair askew and an ill-fitting suit jacket either showed his years or the results of a Jack Daniels warm-up. It's getting bad reviews. Mostly because it was so odd.

Equally odd, however, was the wholly enthusiastic audience reaction to anything and everything Eastwood said.

At one point, for example, talking to the empty chair (Obama), he referred to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and asked, “Why don’t you bring them home tomorrow morning?”

The audience roared its approval despite the fact that (a) former GOP nominee John McCain had the same audience cheering his position against a quick or date-certain withdrawal from Afghanistan and (b) Romney agrees with Obama’s timeline for withdrawal.

Eastwood also pretended Obama was speaking back to him, at least twice suggesting Obama was telling both he (Eastwood) and Romney to go f—k themselves.

“I can’t do that to myself,” Eastwood said.

It was a strange note in a convention focused on family values.

The Associate Press reports Romney aides were wincing backstage.

Eastwood, a former GOP mayor of Carmel, has long backed Republican candidates and presidents even though he supports gay marriage and is a staunch environmentalist.

But his big “surprise” appearance, intended to fire up the GOP faithful, turned out to be a misfire.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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