Picking an old white man who looked like he was on his last legs to be your mystery speaker was in a lot of ways emblematic of the Republican Party. The GOP has been beaming images from their convention hall of practically all white crowds of middle aged and elderly Americans into our homes every night this week. Mystery guest Clint Eastwood looked like he was doing an impression of Christopher Walken playing a doddering old man who has slipped away from the assisted living facility where he actually lives.
Eastwood’s Invisible Obama routine, where he interviewed an empty chair beside the lectern as if it were President Obama, took so long to develop that my subconscious had already dredged up all of the attendant metaphors from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man by the time Eastwood said “…and I think if you just step aside and Mr. Romney can kind of take over…”
It was in that instant that I understood why Eastwood was there. “…and I think if you just step aside and Mr. Romney can kind of take over…” The aged star of tough guy gun slinger movies mouthed the words that many folks across the country, some Democrats included, have been thinking. This black president thing was great. You made history. Got some of that racial animus off of the nation’s back. But running the country is serious business. So why don’t you just step aside… In retrospect, the Romney campaign may realize by this afternoon that a hologram of Ronald Reagan saying anything would have been a much, much better idea.
In some ways, it was as if Mr. Eastwood was the most honest of Mitt Romney’s surrogates. Instead of having to actually fight for the presidency, President Obama could simply cede the office to Romney, and the rest of us would have no reason to quibble of over inconsequential details like tax returns from 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006, or any of the actual elements of Mr. Romney’s federal budget plans. Luckily for us, President Obama is not the kind of guy who is willing to throw in the towel because the going got tough. Board room maneuvers are not going to win the White House. Nor are polite requests, subliminal or otherwise, going to get this president to step down.
The worst thing about all this for the Romney campaign? I and hundreds of others are writing more about Clint Eastwood than we are about Mitt Romney’s speech. This Eastwood saga does have me wondering, however, if the Democratic Party is in need of its own mystery guest. If they are, my 93 year old grandfather, a recently retired farmer who is in a hell of a lot better shape than Clint Eastwood, is available.