Friday, August 31, 2012

And starring Clint Eastwood as Abe Simpson

It went from odd to surreal to hilarious to sad to just pathetic in ten minutes.


See, my Dad is Alzheimer's-ridden here at the end of his life, so I'm not given over to the great humor present in last night's talk by Mr. Gran Torino. I'll just point some of it out to the rest of you so that you can have a good time with it.

But this wasn't just funny. It was instructive of the quality of Mitt Romney's campaign. Just think of everything that had to happen to deliver us (last night)'s disaster:

  • Republicans started buzzing about their "secret guest" on Monday, if not earlier. That means they had four days to help Clint write a speech and, you know, vet it. They didn't.

  • They then spent four days building up the hype about their super duper awesome secret guest. A joke that it would be a zombie Reagan hologram soon got a life of its own, and rumors abounded that yes, it would be Reagan! But no matter what, Clint Eastwood was never going to live up to the hype. He's cool, but this is a political convention, not a Comedy Central roast. There was palpable letdown when he was announced.

  • Did they read Clint Eastwood's latest hits? Pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, cut and ad celebrating the auto bailout for the Super Bowl, and someone quoted as saying he didn't believe in the modern Republican Party. So if nothing else, it provided snark fodder all day.

  • Here's the big one -- the campaign obviously spent big bucks putting together a super effective and beautifully done biographical mini-documentary on Romney's early years. The guy has had a terrible job selling his personal story because he's got none. Some video director moved heaven and earth to make the guy seem almost compelling -- a great introduction to people who haven't been tuned in to the race until now. And ... they run it before the networks cut in. Sure, the folks at Fox and CSPAN saw it, but they already know whether they like Romney or not.

  • No one felt compelled to lend Clint a comb?

  • Bumping their pretty bio piece for Clint might have worked if the campaign knew what they were getting. He's a big star, a Hollywood legend. Convention ratings have been downright atrocious for this convention (40+ million saw Sarah Palin speak, 22 million saw Paul Ryan). Clearly, schedulers hoped that having a big time celebrity lead the coverage would keep people watching. But conventions are scripted for a reason. Or put another way, people aren't allowed to ad-lib because if they do ... well, you know.

At first, people tried to work out why the old mumbly guy was hearing voices in his head. But it wasn't his head, it was, uh the chair, which wasn't much better. But wait, this could turn out genuinely funny. It was, after all, Clinton Fucking Eastwood! So for about three minutes, it was debatable how things might turn out. But then it was no longer debatable, as minute after interminable minute passed no coherent point or end in sight and people remembered that Clint Fucking Eastwood isn't supposed to be funny! I mean, actual quote:

Do you just - you know - I know - people were wondering - you don’t - handle that OK.

Here's Politico's Tweet round-up.

Let me just say that this is very entertaining, but holy hell it is weird.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) August 31, 2012

this is a disaster— Jon Ward (@jonward11) August 31, 2012

This alternates between brilliant and catastrophic train wreck.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) August 31, 2012

This is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama.— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) August 31, 2012

And somehow he’s losing. RT @allisonkilkenny: This is utter insanity. CLINT EASTWOOD IS ARGUING WITH AN IMAGINARY OBAMA. #RNC— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) August 31, 2012

A great actor and director isn’t doing much of either tonight. Needs a script badly.— Neil King (@NKingofDC) August 31, 2012

Facial expressions of many delegates at #RNC = bewilderment #GOP2012 #Eastwood— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) August 31, 2012

It’s halftime in Clint Eastwood’s speech— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 31, 2012

The Fact Checkers are going to completely ignore this one.— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) August 31, 2012

This may be even worse than “Changeling.”— daveweigel (@daveweigel) August 31, 2012

Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic. He didn’t need to do this to himself. It’s unworthy of him.— Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) August 31, 2012

This seat’s taken. OFA.BO/c2gbfi, twitter.com/BarackObama/st…— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 31, 2012

Clint Eastwood on the phone with Obama now: “It all went according to plan,sir.” #RNC #GOP2012— Chris Rock (@chrisrockoz) August 31, 2012

That was…weird.— S.E. Cupp (@secupp) August 31, 2012

The speech even inspired at least three parody accounts:

Make me firewood. NOW. PLEASE.— ClintEastwood’sChair (@EastwoodChair) August 31, 2012

Okay, I’m sick of taking this sitting down— Clint’s Empty Chair (@ClintsChair) August 31, 2012

The GOP built me.— Invisible Obama (@InvisibleObama) August 31, 2012

I'm not going to embed the video; it's just too painful, in that side-splitting kinda way. One last bit of poetry, also from Twitter.

Yesterday, upon a chair
Clint met a man who wasn’t there
How sad it is that Rowdy Yates
Has ended up as Orly Taitz 

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