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Sudden Impact

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza gives his coveted Worst Week in Washington award to Clint Eastwood. According to Cillizza, at the RNC “Eastwood did everything but stick to any sort of script that would have given the audience a shot at understanding whatever point he was trying to make.”

Poltico has posted the text and video of Eastwood’s remarks here. The delegates in the hall didn’t seem to have any trouble understanding Eastwood’s points (he had several). Obama and his campaign team certainly didn’t have any trouble understanding one of Eastwood’s points — one that I think is going to stick.

At the top of his remarks, Eastwood invoked the spell that Obama cast four years ago and brought it up to date with the cruel awakening:

I remember three and a half years ago, when Mr. Obama won the election. And though I was not a big supporter, I was watching that night when he was having that thing and they were talking about hope and change and they were talking about, yes we can, and it was dark outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles.

They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is crying, Oprah was crying.

I was even crying. And then finally — and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country. Now that is something to cry for because that is a disgrace, a national disgrace, and we haven’t done enough, obviously — this administration hasn’t done enough to cure that. Whenever interest they have is not strong enough, and I think possibly now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.

Bingo. I didn’t find that the least bit hard to understand.

As Eastwood proceeded, I wasn’t sure where he was going and I wasn’t sure he was going to get there. But he did, and his performance increased the interest and the impact (Sudden Impact, to borrow from the title of one of Eastwood’s Dirty Harry films).

Eastwood’s imaginary dialogue with Obama in the empty chair included this riff on Obama’s campaign promises:

Well, I know even people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn’t close Gitmo. And I thought, well closing Gitmo — why close that, we spent so much money on it. But, I thought maybe as an excuse — what do you mean shut up?

(LAUGHTER)

OK, I thought maybe it was just because somebody had the stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City.

I didn’t find that the least bit hard to understand, and I appreciated the reminder.

In his dialogue with the empty chair Eastwood moved on from Gitmo to Afghanistan:

I’ve got to to hand it to you. I have to give credit where credit is due. You did finally overrule that finally. And that’s — now we are moving onward. I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s okay. But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean — you thought that was something worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it — they did there for 10 years.

(APPLAUSE)

But we did it, and it is something to be thought about, and I think that, when we get to maybe — I think you’ve mentioned something about having a target date for bringing everybody home. You gave that target date, and I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, “Why are you giving the date out now? Why don’t you just bring them home tomorrow morning?”

Now here I thought Eastwood was approaching art, packing layers of ridicule into his riff. Regarding Afghanistan, “We didn’t check with the Russians.” Obama has checked with the Russians about missile defense, among other things. Through his friend Dmitri, Obama has asked Vladimir to give him “space” until he secures reelection and can sell us out with impunity. Why not check with Vladimir about Afghanistan? He might actually have been able to teach him something. I thought this was a subtle reminder of an Obama lowlight.

And the same applies to Obama’s announcement of the Afghanistan surge, simultaneously undercut by the announcement of a withdrawal date. It made no sense. It was fatuous. I didn’t find Eastwood’s point the least bit hard to understand. It all built to this: “When somebody does not do the job, we’ve got to let him go.” I didn’t find that the least bit hard to understand either.

I could go on, but it really isn’t necessary. In the annals of cluelessness this campaign season, Cillizza’s column deserves some kind of recognition — maybe a special edition of Worst Week In Washington.

UPDATE: Let’s go to the tape, once more once.

STEVE adds: I still say the Democrats are going to counter next week in Charlotte with . . . Betty White.

PAUL adds: I agree with Scott. Eastwood’s points about Obama were easy to understand and in some cases quite powerful. Cillizza understood them; he just didn’t like them.

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