AP reported yesterday that Twitter was “instantly ablaze” with comments mocking Clint Eastwood’s bizarre presentation to the Republican convention that included an imaginary conversation with “President Obama” in an empty chair. The wire service said that a Twitter account called @InvisibleObama had 30,000 followers half a day later. But on Fox News, the pundits fell all over themselves praising Eastwood and, of course, attacking the left for good measure while they were at it. My vote for comment of the day goes to Laura Ingraham who called Eastwood “Don Rickles in American politics.”
AP also noted, “Backstage, stern-faced Romney aides winced at times as Eastwood’s remarks stretched on.”
CBS News reported,
As traffic on Twitter about the actor’s bizarre speech spiked, the Romney campaign rushed out a statement even as their candidate was delivering his acceptance speech.
“Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn’t work,” the statement said. “His ad-libbing was a break from all the political speeches, and the crowd enjoyed it.”
Coincidentally, those same sentiments were echoed repeatedly on Fox the next day.
Of the shows we saw, going chronologically, let's start with Fox News contributor Janine Turner on America Live. She called Eastwood’s performance “fantastic!” and “very, very important.” She added, “He’s an actor! He’s gonna say things and do things a little bit quirky and different. But what he said is that we own our country and that politicians are our employees. That’s, that’s brilliant! It needed to be said.”
Guest host Alisyn Camerota initially questioned whether Eastwood had been “appropriate for the moment.” But later, she noted his age of 82 and then prompted asked, “Does he deserve a bit of a pass if his delivery was sometimes uncomfortable or awkward?”
Predictably, Turner thought so. “We should be applauding this. The liberals? They’re going to be ugly because they’re scared! Because Clint Eastwood walked on that stage and endorsed Mitt Romney!”
Next up: Mike Huckabee on Your World.
After playing a clip of MSNBC pundits panning Eastwood, host Neil Cavuto said, “Maybe we were at different conventions. This was a silly thing, it wasn’t meant to be this great cerebral moment.”
Huckabee called Eastwood “a great American” who “loves this country.” Nevertheless, even he seemed to struggle for words to describe the bizarre performance. “I thought it was, you know…” His voice trailed off. Then he added, “It was Clint Eastwood, for God’s sake.”
Cavuto argued that Eastwood’s teleprompter had “gone down” and he was forced to “wing it.” For the record, CBS News reported:
One Republican official told CBS News political director John Dickerson said Eastwood was not scripted because they didn’t want to “rein in his creativity.” But when asked after the speech, a senior Romney adviser rolled his eyes, and acknowledged “it was a distraction.” One they couldn’t turn off.
Finally, on The O’Reilly Factor, Geraldo Rivera had a vastly different take. He didn’t mince words as he called Eastwood’s speech “buffoonery” and said that it detracted from Romney’s “terrific… strong and humane” speech.
But before he got a chance to say a word, guest host Laura Ingraham preempted his criticisms with a positive spin: “I loved Clint Eastwood from beginning to end. Because it had everyone on edge. It was an unscripted moment in a buttoned-up convention… and it drove the left absolutely bonkers… I loved every minute of it.”
Rivera retorted, “If you’re going to do stand up comedy, you have to have good writing… I thought it was dreadful.”
Ingraham said Eastwood is a jazz pianist “so he’s up there improvising.” She called him a “warm up” for Marco Rubio. Then she added, “This is Don Rickles in American politics.”
The only problem, Foxies? America doesn’t see it the way you do.
The complete Eastwood speech is the first video below, followed by the three Fox News segments discussing it.
I’ve always seen Sabato presented as a political science professor and he comments on politics, polling, etc. I’ve never seen him on Fox talking about Italy. After all, America is so exceptional, they never have time to talk about any other country… except Mexico and Iran.