Snagging universally respected, all-American film legend Clint Eastwood to give a prime-time speech on the RNC’s final night seemed like a major coup for the Romney campaign. That sentiment survived about 90 seconds into Eastwood’s remarks. Unlike in his movies, he had no script — and seemingly no idea what he planned to say.
Eastwood proceeded to have an improvisational conversation with “President Obama” in an empty chair beside the podium. Though it had the potential to be a humorous bit, it was, instead, a rambling, meandering monologue about pretty much nothing, like watching someone mumble in their sleep. The few coherent thoughts Eastwood managed to get around to making were puzzling and off-key. He seems to think that Romney wants to bring American troops home from Afghanistan immediately. He mocked Obama for giving speeches at colleges about student loans.
The AP reported seeing Romney aides wincing backstage. It was an absolute train wreck.
Outside the Forum later in the night, David Frum was shaking his head. “It was one of those things that must have seemed like a good idea when it was first proposed,” he told us, chuckling. “Teleprompters are extremely useful.”
Ultimately, though, Frum doubts the Eastwood disaster will hurt the Romney campaign. “It amuses and entertains the political junkie,” Frum said, “but so few things that happen at conventions are either net positives or negatives, because so few things matter to the people who are making the decisions. I don’t think that’s one of them. I think that’s a Morning Joe, Hardball, Situation Room discussion.”
This is true, to an extent. It’s hard to imagine that any voters are saying to themselves, “That Eastwood speech was terrible. Guess I won’t vote for Romney after all.” The thing is, we’ll never know how persuasive the speech that Eastwood didn’t give — the one we all thought he would give — could have been.