Clint Eastwood Upstages Mitt Romney with a Chair

Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech for the official nomination was a historic moment for the LDS Church, much as the nomination of President Barack Obama was for so many of us; I’m sure that for many Mormons it was a long-awaited moment of acceptance after years of persecution. Grumpy old Uncle Clint, talking to President Obama’s empty chair, however, upstaged that poignant moment.

In a monologue that was clearly a WTF moment, Clint Eastwood performed his character from Gran Torino: a disgruntled white man, schooling the upstart African-American man about life.

In that depiction, however, Eastwood took away from the careful choreography designed to introduce a different Mitt Romney to America. I couldn’t see that Mitt because he was obscured by Clint Eastwood’s Razzie-winning performance aimed at the base that Romney and Ryan are trying to reach: disgruntled older whites who are tired of the diversity of peoples and faiths that America is all about.

Sarah Palin would have been better than Eastwood; Palin may have gone off script, but she does know how to throw out the racial animus and anger with a smile and a wink.

I’m sure whoever thought Eastwood’s star power would help shine a light on the convention is still at the woodshed, or riding in the cargo hold of Ryan’s VP plane. Eastwood was a reminder of the very racial animus in the campaign that the Republican Party is working hard to make us forget. And while we saw a parade of women and people of color on the platform, down on the convention floor, peanuts were thrown at a black camerawoman Patricia Carroll, with the unnamed perpetrators shouting: “that’s how we feed the animals.” 

Incidents like these and Eastwood’s performance as grumpy white man left me with mixed emotions about the effectiveness of Romney’s rehabilitation project. While I agree with Joanna Brooks that last night’s convention lineup was for the most part like a typical Mormon church service, juxtaposing those testimonials against Clint Eastwood’s performance was poor scheduling.

Moreover, Eastwood was a clear reminder of the meanness and racialized behavior that remains rampant in the GOP. If Mitt hopes to win undecided voters over in the next two months, he may need to go ahead and bring out hologram Reagan.