Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Sudden Impact

Let’s set aside the question of whether it was a wise move for the planners of the recently-completed Republican National Convention to bring actor Clint Eastwood to the stage Thursday night.

Let’s set aside the question of whether it was wise for Mr. Eastwood to improvise his speech. He’s an actor. There’s a certain amount of training and/or experience there. I have a number of friends who tread the stage, either for fun or profit (!), and I know they work hard to get good at what they do.

Let’s set aside the content of the speech. I happen not to agree with a whole lot of what was said from the Republican Convention’s podium this week, but that’s not what I’m thinking of, this morning.

Let’s even set aside one of the impressions that people might have gotten from Mr. Eastwood’s presentation.

One possible impression: from a standing position, he turned to a chair next to his podium and spoke to it as if there was someone sitting in it. Below him. He talked down to the “invisible person” in that chair. He talked down to him. Visually, it looked a little like a school principal having a talk with a recalcitrant, misbehaving little boy. Mr. Eastwood is 82 years old. The current President is fifty-one. I don’t know a lot of 51-year-olds who would sit there and accept that treatment, even from “Mister Go-Ahead-Make-My-Day”.

Let’s set that aside for the moment.

There’s another way in which I’m sure many observers were apt to interpret that visual image, whether the planners had it in mind or not. In fact, sometimes, whether they’re part of the plan or not, unintended images are still potent images. This is what Mr. Eastwood’s speech could have looked like: the person at the podium, excoriating the invisible person in the chair next to him, was white. The person he was pretending was in the chair … kinda wasn’t.

But let’s set that aside for the moment, too.

No, this speech, which was otherwise faintly condescending and at times more than mildly insulting – and which, in my opinion, made a number of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” theater games look like frickin’ Shakespeare – featured two moments that made my head snap back.

To me, these two moments were awful in their lack of respect for the office of the Presidency, for any President (including the one previous to the current one), and in fact for the current President. Because those two moments misrepresented the behavior of the President, at least judging by his public statements and persona.  (How he is in private may be the same or different, but that, I think, is not applicable here.)

The imagined President was made (1) to appear to tell Clint Eastwood to shut up, and (2) to appear to tell Clint Eastwood to do something anatomically impossible to himself (which, incidentally, a recent former Vice President told a sitting US Senator to do a number of years ago on the floor of the US Senate).

We live, sadly, in a time where more and more awful moments have less and less of a chance of snapping people’s heads back … possibly because there are more and more of them and perhaps we Americans have become more and more immune to their effect.

But at the very least, this proves that the planners of the Republican Convention – if not its participants, and if not the Republican “base” of voters who were watching on television, and if not the people who might possibly become swayed to vote Republican by watching this week-long spectacle – it proves that the planners of this theater-of-the-absurd moment have no business whatever decrying the lack of civility in American life these days. Thursday night, they represented that lack. They supported that lack. They were that lack.

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September 1, 2012 - Posted by | celebrity, Famous Persons, news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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