Clint Eastwood’s speech to the Republican National Convention was the most significant thing to come out of either convention. At the time, I wrote a piece predicting that his was an important message:Ridiculing our empty-suit president is now a legitimate national sport, something Dirty Harry and I envisioned weeks ago.
“Inspector Harry Callahan made our day by telling us it’s OK to laugh at President Obama and Vice President Biden and their policies because they’re a joke – they’re men who don’t know their limitations…”
Dirty Harry mocking an invisible Obama in an empty chair has attained meme status. Eastwooding is firmly in the political lexicon as a verb. What’s next – go Eastwood yourself?
In Wednesday’s Titanic debate disaster, 70 million Americans and the world got a good look at the president’s limitations. Guffaws were heard in most languages spoken on the planet. And it’s turning into a game changer by moving poll numbers in Romney’s favor.
Stumbling, rambling, petulant, peevish and defensive are words used to describe the president’s debate performance - by his friends. But as President Harry Truman supposedly said, “If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog.”
Embarrassed liberals who were waiting to heap accolades on him were reduced to making excuses, blaming moderator Jim Lehrer or accusing Mitt Romney of practicing political voodoo to mesmerize poor Mr. President.
Just a few:
· Alleged comedian Bill Maher was so appalled by Obama’s performance he half-jokingly suggested that the $1 million he had donated to the re-election campaign had gone for weed.
· In a related story, Al gore channeled John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” and blamed Denver’s altitude for Obama appearing lackluster.
· Traditional allies, such as the American Association of Retired Persons, are running so fast from President Obama they’ll qualify for the 100 meter sprint in the next Olympics.
· Saturday Night Live had a grand old time parodying the mouth-foamers at MSNBC who went ballistic after the debate crash-and-burn:
· Perhaps the unkindest cut of all came from the cover of the semi-official publication of Big Apple glitterati and, by extension, America’s cocktail intelligentsia, The New Yorker. Eastwooding in all its glory:
If you think that’s bad, wait until you read what they actually said on the inside.
That’s what happens when you spend four years covering for a guy who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for just showing up. His debate performance exposed him as smoke and mirrors – the political version of movie smooth talkers like Prof. Harold Hill and Elmer Gantry. Charming and able to convince us to believe what he says and not what we see with our lying eyes.
After 90 minutes without his teleprompter and faced with hard questions from a prepared debate opponent for maybe the first time in his public life, his veneer cracked – he looked like he would have rather been at the dentist - and the real Obama poked through. America saw the truth: he’s not very bright. Or at least he’s not as bright and magical as he’s been advertised.
For a long time, we’ve heard that Obama is egotistical, selfish and dull. Others told us what they were seeing, but in the debate we saw it with our own eyes. Lincoln was right: You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
Who can forget the president near-begging plea to Lehrer to change the subject, he was getting beat up so bad by Mitt Romney?
Without a script on a teleprompter, President Obama gets into more trouble than Joe Biden. It wasn’t the vice president who gifted Republicans with the “You didn’t build that” ad lib.
Romney the deal-making entrepreneur gets this – he knows Obama’s hubris and rhetorical laziness are his Achilles’ heel. You saw it during his convention speech where he quipped about Obama’s promise to “slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet” while biting his lip with a sideways glance as if to say, “Who does this guy think he’s kidding?”
As a seasoned businessman, especially one who made money investing in sometimes shaky enterprises, he’s seen grifters, con artists and flim-flam men who are all hat and no cattle. He said as much during the debate when he pushed President Obama back saying that raising five boys had prepared him to hear all sorts of tall tales, which is a polite way of saying, “It’s getting pretty deep in here.”
Mitt Romney is now being seen as the smartest man in the room. President Obama’s bar, on the other hand, can’t be set much lower unless you want it on the ground.
Barack Obama, the community organizer who studied Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, better get used to having Rule #5 – Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon – applied to him between now and November 6 and probably well beyond.
Republicans are all over it with their “Smirk” ad, a montage of Obama’s snarky facial expressions during the debate:
Since he’s no longer untouchable, the president is getting it from all sides. What Obama had going for him was his likeability. But watching him smirk, you want to yell at him to wipe that grin off his face. We know he dislikes Mitt Romney, but Romney was the devil then. Now that the debate showed us that Romney’s not a bad guy, Obama is bucking for the devil spot in this campaign.
Romney came to the debate to close a sale. Obama came to close up shop.
The triumph of Eastwooding.