On the last evening of the 2012 Republican National Convention, celebrated actor, director and (I think I’ll go ahead and say it) American icon Clint Eastwood addressed the crowd ahead of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Eastwood’s speech was widely panned by pundits, mostly for being rambling and seemingly largely improvised. I personally felt as though I was being engaged in conversation by a friend’s kindly, somewhat senile grandfather over a cup of coffee; an enjoyable enough experience in the confines of someone’s home or in the booth of a cafe. But once the gentleman is transposed to the auditorium stage and is bumbling along in front of thousands, an element of sadness begins to emerge.
My favorite (though that’s not quite the right adjective) part of the speech came during the introductory paragraph. After remarking that it must be shocking for those in attendance to discover that there are, in fact, conservatives in Hollywood (preposterous!) he went on to say:
It’s just that the conservative people by the nature of the word itself play it a little more close to the vest. They don’t go around hot-dogging it.
At that moment, the thousands of delegates and party officials within the Tampa Bay Times Forum who had spent the last 72 hours decked out in all manner of red, white and blue attire, buttons, stickers, and various accoutrement, waiving signs and chanting, “We built it!” ad nauseam burst into thunderous applause and a cacophony of self-congratulation. It could not have been more beautifully done if it were scripted that way.
And as much as I wanted to laugh, I couldn’t. Because at that moment I realized how the world world would look with all sense of irony drained out of it: like the Republican National Convention.