Friday, August 31, 2012

My response to the Eastwood debacle

I've been going back and forth in my head for awhile about whether to write about Clint Eastwood's appearance at RNC 2012 last night. I guess its obvious which side won.

The truth is, I have traditionally not been a big fan of Eastwood. Most of his movies relied way too much on high levels of testosterone for me to be interested. But with age sometimes comes wisdom. Lately he's seemed to get in touch with his heart a bit. Some of my very favorite movies include ones like "Grand Torino" and "Million Dollar Baby" and "Invictus" - all of which relied on Eastwood's eye for important stories.

I'm tempted to try to analyze what goes on in the mind of someone who can bring those stories to life and do what he did last night. When I go there I see a man who - in his younger days - was captured by the "make my day" form of machoism. And then went a little deeper into the very real struggles of life. Last night seems like a venture into senility - which makes it a truly sad moment when played out on national TV.

Perhaps I'll move on to being able to see the humor in it all later. But watching a human being self-destruct in front of your eyes was painful to me.

The other angle on all this is the political ramifications for Romney/Ryan. In that arena, I agree (surprise, surprise!) with Steve Benen.
Political conventions occasionally produce memorable moments that endure. The Chicago riots in 1968, Cuomo's "Tale of Two Cities" speech in 1984, Al kissing Tipper in 2000, Obama's "audacity of hope" in 2004 -- these are memories that quickly entered the political history books, reminding us why conventions still matter.

Last night, we saw another such moment, when Clint Eastwood decided to argue with an empty chair...

A month from now, no one will remember a word from Romney's speech, but a decade from now, we'll still be talking about the time a confused Clint Eastwood had a debate with an empty chair, and lost.
This is so true. All the work the Romney campaign put into presenting their candidate will soon be forgotten. What will remain in the annals of the history of conventions will be this Eastwood moment.

But its not only that. Conventions plan their schedules around the time that the networks pick up coverage. Only the truly dedicated political junkies watch anything else that goes on. Eastwood's big moment last nigh pre-empted the airing of the big Romney bio video that would have been otherwise shown as part of that network coverage. So instead of one last attempt at "humanizing" Romney, millions of Americans tuned in to see this debacle happen live in front of their cringing eyes.

I've talked before about this Romney/Ryan campaign being a clear example of the gang who couldn't shoot straight. We just got a whopper of an example of that last night.  


  1. One of the things in 2008 that I figured ought to have put to bed any concerns about Obama's "lack of experience"--and, because he won it did, practically--was that he led a campaign that beat the Clinton machine soundly, and didn't drop the ball in the general. Clearly, the man knew how to lead an organization, because the proof was right there for everyone to see. Today, there are some who talk about Obama's lack of experience, but they're clearly delusional because he's been President for nearly a full term by now.

    I've thought about the bit last night--and I like a number of Eastwood's movies, primarily because I like Sergio Leone--and it calls into question everything about Romney's experience. Particularly, I've thought about the difference in working in finance capital, which seems like riding a bike downhill, and building a business from scratch. The second seems to me a real, valuable organization effort, and quite difficult. Using someone else's money to sell other companies for scrap? Not as hard.

    As you said, the gang that couldn't shoot straight. I was thinking again and again last night that this was Mack Sennett's best work since his passing.

    1. The second seems to me a real, valuable organization effort, and quite difficult.

      You hit a personal chord on that one with me.

      Just yesterday I was using a co-worker as a sounding board about some challenges we're facing. He pointed out that people often think because we're a small (nonprofit) business, our challenges are smaller/simpler as well.

      I suppose that in some ways this is true. The scale of things is smaller. But things are just as complex and each of us in that smaller business has to span a much wider field of challenges as well - which can require a broader range of skills.

      Its part of the myth we have in this country that bigger is always better - and therefore more worthwhile.

    2. Bigger, from a human liberation perspective and quality of life perspective, is almost always worse, I say.

  2. "A month from now, no one will remember a word from Romney's speech, but a decade from now, we'll still be talking about the time a confused Clint Eastwood had a debate with an empty chair, and lost."

    Says it all in one sentence.

    Also, size is entirely relative to perspective. What's a big issue for me does not mean it's a big issue for you. That doesn't mean though that my big issue isn't a big issue, to me!

    1. About size, there's a passage from the Chuang Tzu that's right on point:

      "In the northern darkness there is a fish and his name is K'un. The K'un is so huge I don't know how many thousand li he measures. He changes and becomes a bird whose name is P'eng. The back of the P'eng measures I don't know how many thousand li across and, when he rises up and flies off, his wings are like clouds all over the sky. When the sea begins to move, this bird sets off for the southern darkness, which is the Lake of Heaven.

      The Universal Harmony records various wonders, and it says: ``When the P'eng journeys to the southern darkness, the waters are roiled for three thousand li. He beats the whirlwind and rises ninety thousand li, setting off on the sixth-month gale.'' Wavering heat, bits of dust, living things blown about by the wind - the sky looks very blue. Is that its real color, or is it because it is so far away and has no end? When the bird looks down, all he sees is blue too.

      If water is not piled up deep enough, it won't have the strength to bear up a big boat. Pour a cup of water into a hollow in the floor and bits of trash will sail on it like boats. But set the cup there and it will stick fast, for the water is too shallow and the boat too large. If wind is not piled up deep enough, it won't have the strength to bear up great wings. Therefore when the P'eng rises ninety thousand li, he must have the wind under him like that. Only then can he mount on the back of the wind, shoulder the blue sky, and nothing can hinder or block him. Only then can he set his eyes to the south.

      The cicada and the little dove laugh at this saying, ``When we make an effort and fly up, we can get as far as the elm or the sapanwood tree, but sometimes we don't make it and just fall down on the ground. Now how is anyone going to go ninety thousand li to the south!''"


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