Clint Eastwood's performance at the Republican National Convention was endlessly belittled and parodied by the mainstream press. It seemed obvious what he was doing: ad-libbing a dialogue with Barack Obama, as represented by that empty chair. Eastwood had a glint in his eye the entire time and knew exactly what he was doing.
The problem was, Eastwood evidently hadn't brought any notes or thought that much about what he was going to say beforehand. And while that may show admirable courage and confidence, it's not good planning, and doesn't make for a smooth delivery. It would have been far better had he, like our President, relied on a Teleprompter.
When he first got to the stage, he was met with a huge ovation. After saying "Thank you" about five or six time, he suggested "Save a little [applause] for Mitt." Then he said, "I know what you're all thinking: what's a movie tradesman doing out here -- you know, they're all left wingers out there -- left of Lenin. At least that's what people think, but that's not really the case...."
After this he rambled a bit. His grammar wasn't always perfect, as is almost always the case when people speak off the cuff, but his meaning was always clear. (I admit, not even all the Republicans got him.) Eastwood made a few jokes at the Democrats' expense. But because he was speaking extemporaneously, and because his voice is that of an 82 year old, the liberal media jumped at the chance to accuse him of senility. (Age discrimination anyone?)
If you read the text of his speech, you'll see that it actually wasn't that bad. I can't help but wonder what the media's spin would have been had Clint been speaking at the Democratic National Convention, with the empty chair representing Mitt Romney. I suspect the accolades would have been downright fulsome:
"Clint showed masterful stage presence and demonstrated why he is an American icon. Give the man another Oscar."
"Dirty Harry gave 'em hell."
"Chicago's great improvisational troupe, Second City, could learn a thing or two from this wily old coot."
"What better way to show what an empty suit Mitt Romney is than to portray him as an empty chair? A stroke of genius."
"First, Unforgiven. Then Million Dollar Baby. Flags of our Fathers. Letters from Iwo Jima. And now, Mr. Eastwood Takes Charlotte. Clint Eastwood is simply an American treasure."
(Are you sick yet?)