A reader writes:
Why feature Clint Eastwood? Because Ronald Reagan's dead and they wanted to make this connection:
I have my veto pen drawn and ready for any tax increase that Congress might even think of sending up. And I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers. Go ahead–make my day.
That was Reagan at the American Business Conference. Focusing on Reagan allows the Republican party to ignore the GWB years. And it might have worked except for the fact that Clint Eastwood has never been a good public speaker. (However strange his performance tonight, it's not far off from any appearance he's made on a talk show or when accepting an award.)
Of course it could simply be that he's a huge star and not many have already endorsed Romney. Another reader offers a "much darker interpretation":
Like most viewers I thought Clint's presentation was odd, sad, laughable, incongruous. Somehow this was a moment that just didn't work out. But it was President Obama's response tweet that got me thinking at a much deeper level.
Obama responds with a picture of himself sitting in his chair in the Oval Office, back turned to the viewer, saying, "This chair is taken." Directly to Romney, terse and defiant. Why did Obama respond to that moment, Clint's strange rambling off-topic schtick? Isn't Obama too smart to respond? But Obama's response was so pointed, so potent. Clearly something needed to be addressed.
So I went back to the whole Clint Eastwood stunt and re-watched it a few times with a critical eye. Here's what I come up with: that was an intentional act of imagined violence against President Obama at a deep, semiotic level of American mythos. Take the optics: Clint comes out under a huge backdrop of the Western gunslinger. He starts a monologue vs. "the punk." (Do you feel lucky, punk? Well do you?) The punk, the empty chair, the empty suit, responds by telling Romney, "Go fuck yourself." Clint scolds Obama and leads the crowd in a chant, "Go ahead. Make my day." At which point, as we all know, offstage, Clint would then shoot the punk and kill him. This was a very public, very imaginative enactment of violence against the sitting President of the US.
Oh, please. Take a deep breath and see a moment that will make Jon Stewart's year. It was improv. By the way, a visual reminder of the origin of "Do you feel lucky, punk?":
And "Make my day":