Free Markets, Free People
Clint Eastwood is 82 and an American icon. It’s that simple. He’s sort of the John Wayne of this era. And he’s always been more “Republicanish” than the usual Hollywood crowd.
Last night he gave a speech, or a talk, or, well, whatever you’d like to characterize it as. It was both interesting and at time hilarious. That is, if you “got” what he was trying to do.
He said two things that to me are not said enough. If for no other reason, I liked his speech (which, by the way, is the only speech I’ve watched) because he said them. They are reminders that should be repeated over and over and over again.
The first is in the title. “We own this country”. Frankly, it’s time we started acting like it. Because there are those who would weaken that ownership to the point of non-existence. In fact, for the most part, that intrinsically American principle gets mostly lip service from our employees.
And yes, that’s the second line. Government and politicians are our employees. They work for us. Not the other way around, although you wouldn’t really know that the way things are going. When they’re not up to the job, we should fire them.
Anyway, Eastwood’s speech is getting the expected shredding in the press. Breitbart points out that there are already 25 plus stories (5 in Politico alone) on Eastwood’s speech. I don’t think anyone with any experience around politics and how it is covered today is the least bit surprised. They don’t like seeing “the one” they helped elect mocked.
But despite the negative claims of the media, was the speech effective? Well, I like Richard Fernandez’s take. He does a nice job of laying out why, at least to the “common folk” it was likely a hit.
It was an old man’s delivery, but overstatedly so for effect. It was a cutting delivery and for that reason delivered in low key. But for all of Clint Eastwood’s rhetorical cleverness at the Republican convention it derived its effectiveness precisely because it wasn’t one of those “I take this platform tonight with pen in hand, bearing in mind the immortal words of Clancy M. Duckworth” type orations. It wasn’t the speech of someone who was running for office.
Rather it might have come from Mr. Weller down at the corner office musing on simple things to not very important people. How it wasn’t good form to mess things up continuously. How one might lose faith in a man who made one broken promise too many. How at the end of the day everyone either did the job or quit out of decency. Even Presidents.
There was no malice in it. Just a tone of regret. But it was redolent of memory too. Of simple things a world away from the Mountaintop; of sentiments a light-year from dramatic arcs, and of ordinary happiness in a universe apart from grand bargains and high-flown rhetorical visions. They were truths that everyone who has ever worked knows but has somehow forgotten because it was so ordinary.
But they were never known to those who had never worked a real job in their lives. And that is the wonder. That they never knew them. Thus the speech was at once us versus them; it was the check in the mail against the certainties of the heart. Every true challenge is built on the bricks of memory. And there were as many challenges in the Eastwood speech as the stones we stand on.
So will it resonate? I think so. For the very reasons I outline above. Simple truths given by a man without a script, reminding us of the reality of the day. Straight talk, no apologies, no waffling, even using a symbolic device (empty chair) to make his point without having to say it.
Political professionals on the left, liberal bloggers and the press will savage it for days. But for those who saw it or will see it, my guess is they’ll pay little attention to those attacking him and more likely identify with the authenticity of the man they’ve “known” for decades. He’s one of us, they’ll think. He’s up there saying what we’d like to say if we had the podium and the ability to do it. It wasn’t polished, but it was real.
That’s what folks are looking for these days.
Frankly, it was refreshing.
A man. A plan. A Super Bowl ad promoting the re-election of Barack Obama masquerading as a Clint Eastwood promotion for Chrysler.
I’m not sure what I’m more appalled by: the fact that Josey Wales is supporting crony capitalism, or the fact that the American taxpayers are funding a Super Bowl ad for the sitting president. How is this even possible?
I can understand that Clint Eastwood is just making a buck, and that perhaps he didn’t understand the ramifications of a bailed-out company spending $3 million per 30 seconds to send a special love note to its benefactor. But “Halftime in America”? Anyone even slightly cognizant of the 80′s would have to recognize the parallels to Reagan’s “Morning in America” campaign. Obama is half way through a potential two terms, thus this is his “halftime”. Ergo, supporting Obama in the next election equates to better times ahead.
In other words, we were fed blatant propaganda via our tax dollars.
Think about this for just a second. A company that was formerly held by a well-heeled hedge fund, and which was bailed out by the current administration, just spent gobs of money (that we provided it) to promote the re-election of its savior. On the most watched television event in the world. Starring one of the most respected actors in history. How is this not a disgusting display of crony capitalism?
Just to be clear, I’m not one to say that these sorts of ads should be illegal (although, I certainly question how — keeping in mind that money is fungible — taxpayer funds can be used to make this sort of ad). Let people say and pay for whatever message they want to broadcast. The more speech the better, IMHO.
My problem here is that we were milked by this company, and that we’re paying for the ads to glorify the guy who milked us.
A lot of fools decided to (sort of) camp out in various parks around the nation in order to protest this very behavior. Will any of them stand up and decry this ad? Of course not. Instead, the few of them who make it to the polls will vote to re-elect Obama, and therefor to further crony capitalism so that people better-connected than themselves can have worry-free employment at far greater than the market rate, and the national average.
We can have a country of laws, in which we are all treated equally with respect to individual rights protecting autonomy, or we can have a rule of man in which the favored make all of our decisions for us and reap the benefits of everyone’s effort. We are long down that second road.
I just hope that, unlike the Super Bowl, it is not the patriots who lose. I fear that there is no other possible outcome when we are forced to pay for the very propaganda that laces our wrists in chains.