Friday, August 31, 2012

Mr. Eastwood Yields To The Chair

Let's put some things into perspective.  Clint Eastwood is an icon, a legend, a Kennedy Center Honoree.  His films have been praised, both his work in front of and behind the camera (especially when they show a left-of-center viewpoint...Million Dollar Baby, anyone?).  Now, however, his appearance at the Republican National Convention has been judged as bizarre, embarrassing, and just nutty.

However, I think a little education is in order.

Eastwood is not someone who was ever comfortable making speeches.  Once, he was pulled from the Academy Awards audience to fill in for Charlton Heston due to Heston's late arrival (a flat tire).  He was clearly embarrassed at having to talk about parting the Red Sea (a reference to The Ten Commandments) and swore never to return until he was an actual nominee.  He kept his word, not coming until Unforgiven was in the running.  Eastwood is not a trained comedian, so perhaps the routine of him fake interviewing the President wasn't the greatest, but I think everyone is blowing this out of proportion.

You'd have to be an idiot to think Clint Eastwood ACTUALLY thought he was REALLY talking to a chair!

Wait a minute, wait a minute Ed "Right-Wing Slut" Schmitt.  We'll get to you in a bit.

I think people have become so dull that they appear to not understand that the chair is what is called in theater circles, "a prop".  The Chair (to quote George Strait) is what in English is called "a metaphor".  A metaphor, for those who think 'text' and 'friend' are verbs, is when you use one thing to mean another.  The Chair was suppose to be President Obama.  It appears to have escaped everyone watching on television.  If it didn't, then to understand what all the mockery of Clint Eastwood speaking to a chair is something that escapes me.

Now, I opted to watch the final night on MSNBC because they are on the left and make no secret of it.  All their evening programming: The Rachel Maddow Show, The Ed Show, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, are nothing more than one liberal telling us how he/she thinks after another with nary a bit of news.  It's three hours of leftist commentary; nothing  wrong with that in and of itself.  However, I knew that no matter what happened, MSNBC would be sure to portray it as a failure or a disaster or almost Satanic.  I was not disappointed.  

Rachel Maddow afterwards declared that it was the most bizarre thing she would ever see at any convention, even if she lived to be a hundred.  That's highly possible, given lesbians live longer than straight women.  All of them, Maddow, O'Donnell, Al Sharpton, Chris Hayes, Ed "Right-Wing Slut" Schmitt, and Chris Matthews were all aghast at Eastwood's appearance.  Now, some of them did appear to cut Eastwood a thin bit of slack (he IS 82 years old) but the consensus was that it was the act of a crazy man.

Granted, MSNBC knows crazy when they see it...(Keith Olbermann).

Again, having heard Eastwood's speech, did he ramble a bit?  Yes.  Did it sound disjointed?  At times.  However, apart from a clumsy bit of improv comedy (and a slightly distasteful bit about the 'chair' telling him to tell Romney to 'do something to himself') on the whole it wasn't a bizarre rant of an old man talking to a chair.  It was at times quite clever.  After he fumbled that "can't tell him to do something to himself" bit he had some good zingers about Vice President Biden ("kind of a grin with a body behind it").  Another good line was, "Politicians are employees of ours," which was remarkably coherent and insightful and not the delusional ramblings of a senile old man. The best line was, "When somebody does not do the job, we got to let 'em go."

Yes, Eastwood stumbled and looked a bit ill at ease, but really nothing ridiculous.  Audio-wise, it isn't horrible.  Visually, it does look weak.  He should not have ab-libbed but read off the teleprompter.  Actors need lines.

Ultimately, when it comes to Clint Eastwood's appearance at the RNC, it will soon be forgotten.  National Public Radio (of which I am a regular listener) didn't mention the Eastwood speech, and FOX News (a voice for the Right as ever there was) replayed it in its entirety.

What I want to focus now on the coverage of MSNBC and some of their coverage, which I found as nutty as anything Eastwood did.

After Mitt Romney spoke, Ed "Right-Wing Slut" Schmitt decided he had sent some secret sign to the Birthers (those who think President Obama wasn't born in the United States and thus not a legitimate President) by this comments about the Moon landing:

God Bless Neil Armstrong.  Tonight that American flag is still there on the Moon, and I don't doubt for a second that Neil Armstrong's spirit is still with us, that unique blend of optimism, humility, and the utter confidence that when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.

By these comments praising the late Neil Armstrong, Ed "Right-Wing Slut" Schmitt drew the conclusion that Mitt Romney hinted or suggested that he too, doesn't believe Barack Obama was born in the United States.  Ed "Right-Wing Slut" Schmitt truly believes that.  He was deeply offended that Romney would send a 'dog whistle' to the Birthers that Romney was on their side, that the Governor was all but saying President Obama wasn't a 'real American'.

Now I admit I don't have a television or radio show or that I had to leave both because I called a woman a "right-wing slut" like he did to Laura Ingraham, but is it me or is Ed "Right-Wing Slut" Schmitt reading simply far too much into this tribute to Neil Armstrong?  I'm sorry Mr. Schmitt, but I don't get the connection.  the fact that you see one when I don't think anyone else did (except perhaps you and your co-hosts) is more a reflection of how you see things than on how things really are.

That Mitt Romney somehow is in cahoots with a group of crazies because he thinks well of American achievement (and yes, the Moon landing is a great American achievement)  is just as nutty as suggesting that Mitt Romney is somehow responsible for a woman's death from cancer, or that if Mitt Romney is elected, people will die, or calling Sarah Palin a 'cunt' or calling Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut".

Perish the thought, Ed "Right-Wing Slut" Schmitt.  Not that things like that would EVER happen in a campaign or on your show.

This "Mitt Romney is a Birther" business Ed "Right-Wing Slut" Schmitt believes is to my mind nuttier and crazier and more bizarre than anything Clint Eastwood said or did.  Yet no one at the MSNBC desk, not Sharpton, not Maddow, not O'Donnell, not Matthews, not Up With Chris Hayes' titular host, NONE OF THEM, said to him, "Don't you think you're reading a bit too much into a Neil Armstrong tribute?"

I don't want to believe that people as intelligent as all of the above really think Mitt Romney is a Birther.  Yet it is a sad case of an echo chamber, where people hear what they want to hear and will insert their own views whether they fit or not.

Of course, you can say the same about FOX News (which is why I will take a gander at it during the Democratic Convention, though watching Chris Matthews and Company when President Obama finishes might be too tempting to resist).  Are they conservative?  Yes, and with few exceptions (Sheppard Smith, Chris Wallace, maybe Bret Baier) their news is slanted to the right. 

Unlike others, I'm not bothered by there being bias in news reporting.  FOX can be right, MSNBC can be left.  I watch both and learn a lot from seeing both sides of the issue.  I just wonder whether people are so wrapped up in their partisan views that they see things that aren't there...such as Mitt Romney being a Birther.

Of course, Rachel Maddow wasn't far behind in conspiratorial thinking.  Former Governor Mike Huckabee said during his RNC speech about whether he, a former pastor and evangelical Christian, would only vote for another evangelical Christian (Romney being a LDS or Mormon, Congressman Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden being Catholics)...

Of the four people on the two tickets, the only self-professed evangelical (emphasis his) is Barack Obama, and he supports changing the definition of marriage, believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb even beyond the womb (emphasis mine), and he tells people of faith that they have to bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls 'health care'. 

One can disagree with Governor Huckabee's assertions that the President's views disqualify him from being an evangelical Christian.  Like Queen Elizabeth I, I do not wish to make windows into men's souls.  However, from that bit, Miss Maddow said that Huckabee was accusing President Obama of infanticide, then looked genuinely puzzled at such a ridiculous assertion. 

Only one thing Rach.  I think, and this is just my own reading into things, that Huckabee was making a thinly-veiled reference to partial-birth abortion.  Huckabee is opposed to abortion, which is his right.  I believe Miss Maddow supports women being able to have abortions.  Again, her right.  However, I wonder if Maddow has ever heard of partial-birth abortions.  If she has, then maybe she might have put two and two together, not gotten 979 out of his comments, metaphorically speaking. 

I never thought Mike Huckabee was saying or suggesting that Barack Obama was killing babies (whether you want to apply this to the drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan I leave up to you the reader...and Miss Maddow).    Here again, a commentator sees/hears what she wants to see and hear.  Rachel Maddow is not a journalist and I doubt pretends to be objective, and anyone who turns to her or her on-air nemesis/rival Sean Hannity for actual news has to be a fool unto himself/herself. 

I can't speak for Mike Huckabee, but I don't think he was saying that President Obama was committing infanticide.  I leave for another time whether partial-birth abortions ARE infanticide, a debate that one should have.  However, to jump from being opposed to abortion to saying one is accusing the President of infanticide (which I imagine Maddow sees as the President committing another Slaughter of the Innocents a la Pharaoh or Herod) is a bit too much.

Now that I've rambled like Clint Eastwood, allow me some final thoughts.  Clint Eastwood can do whatever he wants.  He's still Clint Eastwood and his film legacy is secure.  This whole brouhaha will be a minor blip, just like no one remembers Frank Sinatra's rambling speech on receiving a special Grammy.  The work endures, their legacies secure.

I can only hope that the Democratic Party doesn't get it into its head to do some sort of rebuttal with a George Clooney, Matt Damon, Tom Hanks, or Will Ferrell speaking before the President.  It will look only like they are beating up on Eastwood, and if there is something unseemly about a rambling 82-year-old man, isn't there something more unseemly about beating up on an 82-year-old man?  I'm sure there will be jokes, maybe the President will answer Eastwood or even make comments about a chair (perhaps Mr. Obama will ask if anyone's seen his chair).  I'm sure Eastwood is strong enough to take it...he's Clint Eastwood for Heaven's sake!  There might be a risk, however, in going overboard with "Eastwood is nuts/senile" or just Eastwood jokes. 

Love his politics or hate them, Americans by and large respect and love Clint Eastwood.  He's an American Icon, someone whose image and legacy cross party lines (and it should be pointed out, is not socially conservative, putting him closer to Rachel Maddow than Laura Ingraham on some issues).  Eastwood's standing among the great stars, great actors, and great directors won't be diminished by this one offbeat moment. 

Dems, as someone who always comes close to joining you only to see you do something foolish and get pushed back to center-right, don't fall into the temptation to go overboard with Eastwood-bashing.  Americans might not be swayed to vote for Romney because Dirty Harry likes him, but they won't win swing states by beating up someone whom they think more highly of than President Obama. 

Seriously, you want to mess with HIM?

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