Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood’s Time Travel


The local paper in Carmel scored the interview with Clint Eastwood where he tries to describe his bizarre empty chair performance at the RNC. Some of it, including this line…

President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people

… Reinforces my suspicion that the reason Eastwood feels so strongly about Obama is because he actually cried, too, when Obama got elected. He bought the hopey changey bit and now feels gypped.

That said, there’s reason to doubt the honesty of what Clint says in this interview. That’s because his account of how he doubled the amount of time he was alloted is not credible.

Originally, he was told he could speak for six or seven minutes, and right before he went on, he was asked to keep it to five, but he said, “When people are applauding so much, it takes you 10 minutes to say five minutes’ worth.”

Also, there were no signals or cues of any kind, so “when you’re out there, it’s kind of hard to tell how much time is going by.”

Conventions use lights to signal the time, and the Romney campaign’s account of the talk confirms one was used–and ignored–by Clint.

They gave him a time limit and flashed a blinking red light that told him his time was up. He ignored both.

Moreover, his account of how much time was lost to applause and laughter is false: Including the 31 seconds of applause after he came on stage and the 30 seconds of applause after he said, “And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go,” there was just over 2 minutes–out of an 11:40 minute talk–of applause and laughter beyond brief interludes. Eastwood generally interrupted before it ended. So once you consider some of that–especially his 30 second intro applause–is expected, Eastwood took about 10 minutes to say 10 minutes of stuff, some of which didn’t actually help Romney all that much.

Which makes his jab at Hollywood liberals–”conservative people by the nature of the word itself play closer to the vest. They do not go around hot-dogging it”–all the more ridiculous. Clint ignored what the campaign told him (perhaps he thinks he owns the campaign as well as the country), and now he’s lying about having done so.

Mind you, I’m not crying for Mitt, anymore than I’m crying for Obama that Bill Clinton went way over his alloted time. Invite certain kinds of people and you’ve got to expect they’re going to do what they want.

Did Mitt Romney Make Clint Eastwood Lie Cry?


A number of outlets responded to Clint Eastwood’s bizarre speech the other night by fact-checking the legend.

CNN:

“I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there are 23 million unemployed people in this country,” Eastwood said. “This administration hasn’t done enough to cure that.”

But the U.S. Labor Department, which puts out the official government jobs data, counts 12.8 million people as unemployed – not 23 million.

Even if you add in unemployed people who are not counted in that total because they are not actively looking for work — a category the Labor Department terms “marginally attached” — that number rises to just over 15.3 million.

HuffPo:

Apparently Clint Eastwood is a fan of talking about things that don’t really exist.

At the Republican National Convention Thursday night, the man many know as “Dirty Harry” talked to an invisible President Obama. He also invented millions of unemployed people.

During his speech, Eastwood said he was crying for the 23 million unemployed Americans. The only problem: there are actually only 12.8 million unemployed Americans as of July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, whose job it is to keep track of that sort of thing.

While both of these pieces acknowledge the Mitt campaign has said something similar…

The Romney campaign itself has used the 23 million figure, including in afour-minute campaign video entitled “A few of the 23 million.”

The video doesn’t explicitly say that the 23 million are unemployed. Instead, it says “millions of Americans are struggling under the Obama economy. Here are a few of their stories.” Continue reading

Did Clint Get Cold Feet?


There was a moment in Clint Eastwood’s rant last night that struck me then and strikes me even more now, when he explained that there are people of all ideologies in Hollywood.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, what’s a movie tradesman doing out here? You know they are all left-wingers out there, left of Lenin. At least that is what people think. That is not really the case. There are a lot of conservative people, a lot of moderate people, Republicans, Democrats, in Hollywood. It is just that the conservative people by the nature of the word itself play closer to the vest. They do not go around hot-dogging it. [my emphasis]

When he said it last night, I couldn’t tell whether he put himself in the conservative or the moderate classification (he doesn’t fit either label well, in any case).

He seemed, quite literally, trying to figure out what his political beliefs were on stage, talking to a chair.

Add in the fact that Clint reportedly had a script and no chair but threw out the script and got the chair at the last minute.

Then add the evidence that Clint demonstrably didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about. He criticized lawyer-Presidents at a party for a guy with a JD from the same school as Obama.

See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to the president, anyway.

He evinced an isolationist stance on Afghanistan that would be totally at odds with GOP ideology if they discussed anything besides Israel.

But you thought the war in Afghanistan was okay. You know, I mean—you thought that was something worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how they did it—they did there for 10 years.

And while much of what Clint said was pitch perfect for Mitt’s campaign–the focus on jobs, Romney as a quote unquote stellar businessman, the support for Gitmo–ultimately this was a batty old man demanding that citizens get their country back again, a view profoundly at odds with the idea of that party thrown by the huge corporations and billionaires that own Mitt’s campaign and are trying to buy our government.

I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen. Something that I think is very important. It is that, you, we—we own this country.

(APPLAUSE)

We—we own it. It is not you owning it, and not politicians owning it. Politicians are employees of ours.

Continue reading

Walt Kowalski to Speak at the RNC?

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Remember this ad? It played during the Super Bowl, Chrysler’s second great Super Bowl ad in a row. When it played, Republicans immediately accused Chrysler of running the ad as a sop to Obama for bailing the company out. Karl Rove blasted the ad.

I was, frankly, offended by it.

I’m a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the President of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising and the best-wishes of the management which is benefited by getting a bunch of our money that they’ll never pay back.

Which makes the buzz–that Clint Eastwood appears to be Mitt’s surprise speaker tonight–all that more interesting.

A lot of people are talking about what an odd choice, ideologically, Eastwood is for the radicals that make up today’s GOP. He supports gay rights; Mitt’s Church bankrolled opposing them. He’s socially liberal; they’re not. He thinks climate change is serious; they think petroleum profits are.

But I’m most interested in the possibility that Eastwood is the big secret because of what I noted when the ad ran in February. The logic behind having Eastwood star in a Chrysler ad about Detroit is not Dirty Harry, but rather Walt Kowalski, the grouchy old former auto worker from Eastwood’s Gran Torino. And that Clint Eastwood character is actually a great fit for today’s GOP: At the start of the movie, it would not have been out of character for Kowalski to throw peanuts at an African American woman as he bitched about “gooks” and Jews. Over the course of the movie, he comes to realize the Hmongs who have moved into his neighborhood are just as much a part of America as he is.

Walt Kowalski, like a lot of Republicans, was an old white dude struggling to cope with the increasing diversity of his world.

But then there’s the other reason I find it appropriate. I described in February how Walt Kowalski came to symbolize Detroit only because of government investment.

Gran Torino, that tale of troubled old America coming into conflict with, and learning to love, the future of America, was shot in Detroit rather than the Twin Cities because of government intervention. Continue reading

Chrysler’s Halftime Lesson: Government Investment for America’s Rebound

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Once again, Chrysler had one of the best ads in yesterday’s Super Bowl, once again using the aesthetic of Detroit disaster porn to offer gritty inspiration. And while it’s not as good as the Eminem version last year, it might appeal to Chrysler’s target market even more, as it generalizes the uncertainty so many people feel.

I was struck by an irony at the core of the ad, though. Eminem really does embody Detroit. Clint Eastwood, in contrast, has no such personal tie to the city. And while his gritty voice works great for the ad. His delivery of, “This country can’t be knocked out with one punch” perfectly caught his performed toughness (it reminded me of his Million Dollar Baby, which I loved).

The one other reason to choose Eastwood for this ad, it seems to me, is the role he played as Walt Kowalski in his Gran Torino. That guy, an old Korean war vet struggling with the increasing diversity of his lifetime neighborhood, did embody Detroit, as much as Eminem does.

Yet, as written, Kowalski was not a lifetime Detroiter. Rather, screenwriter Nick Schenk based him on a bunch of veterans he met while working in a liquor store in his native Twin Cities. (h/t Wizardkitten)

“And in all of those jobs, especially in the liquor store, I would meet a lot of guys who were vets,” he said.

Schenk recalls asking customers with military tattoos about where and when they served.

“Little by little, as they came in every day for their bottle of ‘medicine,’ they’d tell you a little bit more,” he said.

“If you were respectful — I think everyone wants to get stuff off their chest, and they’re not going to tell their wives, they’re not going to tell their kids — and so if they can find an outlet to dump it out off on, that was me. I had a lot of guys telling me stories for years,” he said.

Those experiences helped him shape the character of Walt Kowalski, a Korean War veteran played by Clint Eastwood.

And the Hmong community was based on the Twin Cities’ sizable Hmong community.

Gran Torino, that tale of troubled old America coming into conflict with, and learning to love, the future of America, was shot in Detroit rather than the Twin Cities because of government intervention. The film was shot during the period when film credits offered under Jennifer Granholm and cut under Rick Snyder brought lots of new, creative jobs to MI; it was one of the first big films to be shot using the credits. Walt Kowalski was a native Detroiter only because MI invested in making him one.

And so Clint Eastwood, that Bay Area native who told a story about the Twin Cities but set it in Detroit, generalized the Detroit-specific ad about resilience from last year. But both the invocation of the Chrysler bailout and the use of Eastwood remind that rebounds work best when governments invest.

One more detail: this story–as told by Chrysler–leaves out a key part of the story. As John Nichols reported this morning, Chrysler specifically edited unions out of this story.

At the fifty-second point in the ad, images from last year’s mass pro-union protests in Madison, Wisconsin, were featured.

But something was missing: union signs.

The images from Madison appear to have been taken from a historic video by Matt Wisniewski, a Madison photographer whose chronicling of the protests drew international attention and praise. Wisniewski’s work went viral, and was even featured in a video by rocker Tom Morello.

Wisniewski’s original video, from an evening rally at the King Street entrance to the Wisconsin Capitol, features images (at the two-minute, seventeen-second mark) of signs raised by members of Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI), the local education union that played a pivotal role in the protests. One sign features the MTI logo, another reads: “Care About Educators Like They Care for Your Child.”

In the Chrysler ad, the MTI logo is missing and the “Care About Educators…” sign is replaced with one featuring an image of an alarm clock. Several other union signs are simply whited out.

It’s an incomplete picture, because government support is not enough to bring on America’s second half. But it is a key part of it.

Update: Karl Rove hates it. Always a good sign, in my book.

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