TAMPA — On average, Mitt Romney and Clint Eastwood delivered a surprising and remarkable speech on Thursday night.
That is to say, Mitt Romney delivered exactly the sort of thing Mitt Romney always delivers, and Clint Eastwood rambled nonsensically to an empty chair for 12 minutes.
I am not making this up.
Clint Eastwood literally rambled to an empty chair for 12 minutes on Thursday, the final night of the Republican National Convention.
He made lawyer jokes. He talked about Guantanamo and Afghanistan and consulting the Russians.
He was ad-libbing, an aide confirmed, in the understatement of the night.
Ad-libbing? His remarks began as follows: “I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, what’s a movie tradesman doing out here? You know they are all left-wingers out there, left of Lenin. At least that is what people think. That is not really the case. There are a lot of conservative people, a lot of moderate people, Republicans, Democrats, in Hollywood. It is just that the conservative people, by the nature of the word itself, play closer to the vest. They do not go around hot-dogging it.” Ad-libbing? No! Surely not.
“So I — so I’ve got Mr. Obama sitting here,” he said, pointing at an empty chair. “And he’s — I was going to ask him a couple of questions.”
This is everyone’s public speaking nightmare. The only thing that set it apart was that Eastwood was definitely wearing pants.
He condemned Obama for unemployment. “I think possibly now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem,” Eastwood said, which was oddly not the most tepid Romney endorsement of the convention so far.
He then proceeded to grill the chair. “So, Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them? I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just — you know — I know — people were wondering — you don’t — handle that. Okay.”
He and the chair discussed Guantanamo and Afghanistan. It was a very communicative chair.
“What do you mean, shut up?” Eastwood asked. “And I thought — I thought, yeah — I am not going to shut up, it is my turn. “ He even implied that the chair was making rude suggestions: “What do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that. I can’t tell him to do that to himself. . . . All right, I’m sorry. I can’t do that to myself either.”
Actually. During prime-time. At the Republican National Convention. It was the kind of audition monologue your drunk uncle thinks will make him a shoo-in for community theater “Hamlet.”
Talk about surprise mystery speakers. Eastwood really took the theme to heart. The words out of Clint Eastwood’s mouth seemed to come as a total surprise and mystery to him as well.
“You’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy,” Clint Eastwood said, to the chair. “You’re getting as bad as Biden.”Actually. “Of course we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic Party. Kind of a grin with a body behind it.”
In a word, it was magic.
“But I just think that there is so much to be done, and I think that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are two guys that can come along,” Eastwood said, with the ringing endorsement again.
“See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to be the president, anyway. I think attorneys are so busy — you know they’re always taught to argue everything, and always weigh everything — weigh both sides. ...They are always devil’s-advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know all that stuff. But, I think it is maybe time — what do you think — for maybe a businessman. How about that?”
Never mind, as Twitter rushed to point out, that Romney has a law degree. The audience applauded.
By the end, Eastwood had grown almost lachrymose. “But I just think it is important that you realize, that you’re the best in the world. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you’re Libertarian or whatever, you are the best. And we should not ever forget that.” You began to be terrified he was going to buy a round for the whole convention.
Then he told the crowd that “we do not have to be . . . masochists and vote for somebody that we don’t really even want in office just because they seem to be nice guys or maybe not so nice guys, if you look at some of the recent ads going out there, I don’t know.”
It was — remarkable. “Make my day!” the audience yelled.
After Eastwood left the stage, Marco Rubio delivered a beautiful, if typical, convention speech, about his remarkable upbringing and belief in the American dream and the American way. But following Clint’s rambling, it felt like sobering up.
At last Mitt Romney delivered a very Romney-like speech. The best and worst that can be said of it is that it is the sort of speech he always gives. If he likes to fire people who provide him with subpar services, I have no idea why his speechwriter is still employed. Perhaps he was fired years ago and Romney simply failed to replace him.
It’s a shame. Clearly, if the videos and personal testimonies to Mitt the Man, Father, Husband, And Leader were any indication, Mitt is not just a set of automated talking points and tepid jokes. But his speeches certainly are. This one was especially vague and seemed to be counteracting the misconception that he did not adequately respect mothers or feel strongly enough about the greatness of America.
After a multi-day festival of Mitt, culminating in a night of testimony to Mitt’s warmth and humanity, it was almost surprising to find that no miraculous transformation had occurred. But at the end of the day, it was just Mitt Romney. Never mind what the chair had to say about it.