The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 1, 2012

Ojanpa: The good, the bad and the mumbly: Clint Eastwood

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

— What was your favorite Clint Eastwood “Get off my lawn!” speech moment?

Was it when he punctuated his call for President Obama’s ouster by drawing a finger across his throat?

Was it when he imagined the president wanting Mitt Romney to go, uh, consummate himself?

Or was it when he turned to an empty stool beside him onstage and launched into an imaginary conversation with the president?

Reminded me of that Neil Diamond “I Am...I Said” lyric:

I am, I said

To no one there

And no one heard at all

Not even the chair

The 82-year-old actor/director stole the show at the Republican National Convention the other night with a long-winded, rambling, unscripted Romney endorsement. It likely was the most bizarre moment ever at one of these political convention infomercial expos.

Eastwood, the convention’s “surprise” speaker, was supposed to talk for five minutes. He droned for 11 as red lights flashed and Romney go-fers went looking for a lasso. It was more dialogue than Eastwood has uttered in all his westerns combined.

He meandered, he mused, he mumbled, he scolded. It was like being cornered by someone’s cranky grandpa at a nursing home unhappy hour.

For the Democrats to go tit-for-tat at their convention, they’ll have to do...what? Drag out Joan Rivers and have her talk to a toaster?

Actually, that’s not a bad idea because these conventions are nothing more than TV shows anyway, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Eastwood has been roundly mocked for his odd, ad-libbed mouthings. And those criticisms have merit if Eastwood’s off-the-wallisms are to be judged solely on their own, irrespective of the setting in which they were delivered.

But if his utterances are rated beside the bland, canned, committee-parsed blatherings of national political convention speakers in general, then he stands acquitted.

Outlier Eastwood took a chance by proffering unvarnished sincerity. That the actor missed his mark is to miss the point.

For 11 minutes face time was given to someone who doesn’t give a rip about public image, polls and pandering to the undecideds in Bumpkinsville.

Now, get off his lawn.

Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or email bojanpa@mankatofreepress.com