When actor Clint Eastwood addressed the 2012 Republican National Convention, in Tampa, last Friday he wasn't speaking to the Ivy League-educated pundits who make a living out of analyzing politics from their New York and California Ivory Towers. He was speaking to Middle America.
That's why the likes of CNN's Gloria Borger and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow might have found Eastwood's speech bizarre, inappropriate and even senile. They're missing the point. Dirty Harry's" speech succeeded by all measures at connecting with those swing state undecided voters who, even if they think Mitt Romney is an out of touch millionaire, would be willing to give the former CEO of Bain Capital a second look if they keep feeling the pain of a stagnant economy come November.
Here are 5 reasons why Clint Eastwood's RNC 2012 speech nailed it:
1. He Debunked the Hollywood Democratic Myth: One of Eastwood's first lines were, "There are a lot of conservative people, a lot of moderate people, Republicans, Democrats, in Hollywood. It is just that the conservative people by the nature of the word itself play closer to the vest. They do not go around hot dogging it." Eastwood effectively debunked the myth that Democrats have a lock on "the Hollywood" vote, tearing into Obama's perceived monopoly of the George Clooneys and Sarah Jessica Parkers of the world. The move is even more significant since Eastwood was the narrator of the Super Bowl commercial "Half Time in America," which was perceived at the moment as pro Obama.
2. The Oprah Moment: What Democrat-turned-Republican Artur Davis did by invocating Obama's 2008 DNC "Greek columns" acceptance speech, Eastwood achieved by invocating the historic moment when Barack Obama was elected the first African American President of the United States. "Everybody was crying. Oprah was crying. I was event crying," said Eastwood about the high expectations placed on Obama in 2008. Then he contrasted, "... and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country."
3. A "Stellar" Businessman: Eastwood quoted former President Bill Clinton back when he defended the business record of Mitt Romney as the Obama campaign ramped up its attacks on Romney's tenure at Bain Capital. The remark came right after Eastwood blasted attorneys as ineffective and dubbed Vice President Joe Biden as "the intellectual leader of the Democratic Party." Genius.
4. Politicians are our Employees: One of the best moments of Eastwood's speech was when he reminded the audience of the obvious fact that "politicians are our employees," and that it was OK to let them go if they're not performing accordingly. This assertion contrasts what some critics have dubbed as Obama's "imperial presidency," reminding the average voter that he or she is the one above his or her public servants (and not the other way around).
5. #TheChairWasEmpty: The powerful symbolism of Eastwood's empty share was lost among professional pundits who dismissed it as the incoherent and confusing idea of an aging dude. However, millions of distressed middle class voters from the swing state might have understood him as the visualization of Washington's leadership vacuum -- not only in the Oval Office but also in Congress.