By Christopher B. Daly
In the aftermath of the Republicans’ “big night,” two questions occur to me about the appearance by the actor Clint Eastwood. These questions seem worth raising, but I have not seen any traces in the mainstream coverage:
1. Who approved the decision to put Eastwood on the GOP convention schedule? Who allowed Eastwood to hijack the agenda at that critical moment of prime-time exposure? Did Romney do so himself? If so, what kind of judgment does that show? What political aim was advanced (or meant to be advanced)? Was it presidential?
2. A useful thought exercise: when covering politics in a two-party system, it is often useful to turn the mirror around and ask, “What would happen if the other party did this?” In this case, you would have to ask, What would happen if the Democrats chose to spotlight a left-wing Hollywood figure in prime time? Furthermore, what would happen if that left-winger had a reputation for menace and incipient mayhem? And what if that figure showed up apparently disheveled and engaged in a vulgar, intermittently incoherent rant? What if that person disrespected the office of the presidency by talking down (literally) to a seated imaginary president?
One response to “Clint Eastwood: Questions for journalists”
Dear Chris, Kim and I hope that you, Ann and the kids have a great holiday weekend. I just wanted to thank you for your points this morning re: Clint Eastwood’s appearance last night at the GOP convention. I thought it was one of the most disrespectful political scenes I’ve ever witnessed, and, in keeping with your comments, has caused some small amount of furor in the Romney team. Watching that made me think of his first role as Rowdy Yates on the old TV series Rawhide, where his character often had to put up with ‘riding drag’ and ride behind the herd and watch out for stray cattle. Unfortunately, Clint was leading the herd last evening in some crass and truly low antics, and everybody whooped and hollered. Freud wrote about the grossly regressive effects of the group on the individual’s ego capacities, such as judgment and empathy, but what if such qualities are already in short supply amongst the members before the group even convenes. Then the attraction of certain people to simple and vicious varieties of categorization and action is able to combine with the regressive forces Freud described, and something truly dangerous can emerge, perhaps especially dangerous if it’s decked in righteousness. In any case, I really appreciated your comments, and I felt prompted to share that with you. See you around. Chris