Considering the reaction, you have to think that Clint Eastwood hit a liberal nerve last night.
When Democratic polls and fellow travelers jump up to denounce Eastwood’s comic relief, you sense that they are trying to neutralize a blow that just hit them in the solar plexus.
Of course, they also want the public to identify the Republican party with Clint Eastwood, an octogenarian actor, not with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Roger Ebert said that Eastwood was “sad and pathetic.” I question whether Roger Ebert is the best person to use such terms.
Howard Kurtz said it was weird and Joe Scarborough declared that it sidetracked the convention.
Michael Moore worried about the damage that Eastwood was doing to his reputation:
The people of the future will know nothing about Dirty Harry or Josey Wales or a Million Dollar Baby. They WILL know about the night a crazy old man hijacked a national party's most important gathering so he could tell the President to literally go do something to himself (i.e. fuck himself).
One appreciates Moore's concern for reputation, but apparently he was so overwhelmed by empathy that he completely misunderstood Eastwood’s bawdy-house humor.
The "crazy old man" was not telling POTUS to do it to himself. He was relaying what imaginary POTUS was telling Mitt Romney (and Clint Eastwood) to do to themselves.
I hope the distinction is not too difficult to understand.
Eastwood was offering some comic relief, some satire, some mockery, some raunch… all of which apparently threatens the humorless party.
Yet, people who are hanging on every empty word of George Clooney and Rosie O’Donnell are not well placed to criticize any Hollywood celebrity.
Considering how much air time these Hollywood airheads routinely receive on news programs and at political conventions, one might even imagine that Clint Eastwood was doing a put down of their pretension to offer thoughtful opinion or cogent analysis.
Eastwood was pitch perfect in pointing out, as only he could have, that the Democratic party, the party that is supposed to contain all of the great minds, has, as its second-in-command a running joke called Joe Biden.
Calling Joe Biden the intellect of the Democratic party is funny.
Representing President Obama by an empty chair is salient, high concept, and very much to the point.
It offers an image that conceptualizes the Republican critique of the Obama administration. It says that President Obama has failed to lead and has failed to discharge the duties of his office because he is more interested in being out and around campaigning than sitting at his desk in the oval office being the president.
Obama and his campaign staff were sufficiently torqued by the trope to have felt a need to tweet back a picture of the president at a cabinet meeting.
When you have to point out that the chair is occupied, that means that it isn’t.
When the President of the United States, on the advice of some of the most savvy media operatives in the world, feels a need to tweet an instant response to a Hollywood actor who is doing a stand-up comedy routine, you can score one for Dirty Harry.
If you missed Eastwood, here's a clip: