Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

Sep 04, 2012

Every Tuesday, Gene publishes weekly updates to his chats.

- Gene's latest chat

On one Tuesday each month, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. He will chat about anything. Although this chat is sometimes updated between live shows, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

Greetings, update readers.  A short one today, in which I once again dare to explode conventional wisdom and stride out fearlessly on my own into the noble but cold wilderness called Not Conventional Wisdomland; a man alone in his contention that Clint Eastwood did a great job at the Republican National Convention.

No, I don't mean did a great job for the Democrats, which seems to be the ongoing storyline, gleefully repeated by the lefties.   I mean, I think he was masterful and if the goober Goppers hadn't immediately publicly reacted to him as though a dotty old grandfather filled the room with flatulence, that might now be the conventional wisdom, too.

The thing is, they HAD to disown him, not because he was rude -- hell, Ryan was much ruder, by making charges he knew were false -- but because he was just a bit profane.  Republicans can't have that!  Think of the childern.  Those who weren't running from the speech were spinning it like desperate Rumpelstiltskins, hoping not for gold but something better than a badly used straw man.  

I admit I have an advantage of bias in my analysis: Deeply lowered expectations.  I didn't watch Eastwood live.  Instead I was babbling with my like-minded Trotskyites on Twitter, through which I learned in real time that something amazing was going on over at the Convention: Clint Eastwood was imploding like Fat Man over Nagasaki.  A megadeath plutonium fusion device, right on stage.  But I didn't want to watch only the end, so I waited for an hour or so until the whole thing was on Youtube.  Then I watched it, joyfully awaiting the disaster that didn't happen.  Quite the opposite happened, I thought. 

I think Eastwood was subtly masterful -- in control while not seeming to be, seemingly unscripted when he wasn't -- which is the epitome of good acting.  He actually pulled off something genuine in the midst of a political convention, the least genuine mileu we ever see.  Whatever anyone thought of Eastwood's speech, I heard no one call it postured or phony, or even manipulative.   Even the least charitable analysis was that it seemed too impromptu.  That he phoned this in. 

I don't think he did.  I think he practiced that speech carefully, right down to the parts where he seemed to lose his train of thought.  I think he wanted his hair to be a little disheveled.   I think he wanted to present the image of an elder statesman who was practically at a loss for words over the stunning ineptitude of this disappointing president in whom we'd invested such hope.   Only he didn't say it like that, because that would have seemed scripted and phony.  

Instead, here's what we got: A celeb with a name nearly as big as Obama's, an older man, a distinguished man with American-icon bona fides, the current John Wayne, who seemed genuinely disappointed in the president and came equipped to do what would otherwise, in anyone else's hands, seem unseemly: Address Obama as an equal, and not just with contempt, but ridicule.   No one else in that room, including Romney, could have pulled that off.   But Eastwood sat Obama down, figuratively in a chair, and spanked him like a little boy who'd done bad and needed to be punished.   And he had Obama react petulantly, telling Eastwood to "shut up," because, really, that's what we say, helplessly and childishly, usually with a gulp of chagrin and a hint of humor, when someone confronts you with an embarrassing failing.   And, when the accuser doesn't go away, the more hostile "F-yourself."

(Manteuffel, who is an actor, points out one oddly incongruous rookie misstep:  Eastwood wasn't talking to Obama's face.  He was talking to Obama's butt, the seat of the chair.   Actors are taught not to do that: You engage an imaginary person's eyes, or chest, if your point is that the imaginary person's charms are distracting your imaginary attention.  But you don't talk to the seat.   Watch it again: The error becomes comical.)

Toward the end, Eastwood becomes all business.  Flinty, Eastwood-like, filled with resignation, even regret:  "When someone does not do the job, you gotta let him go."  Then he pauses for applause.   Then, with grim face, he does a brisk mafia cut across his neck. Then:  "Let him go."

That mafia cut, here in video, was seen by the left as deeply over the line, as though it were some sort of call for assassination.  I disagree.  I think it was a deliberate moment of complete clarity:  We're kidding here, folks, but we're not.  This is serious, historic business we're embarking on, the un-hiring of a president, and we damn well have to be tough and even ruthless about it.   This is not about who we like more, because Obama wins that.  This is about cold, hard, business.  The high plains drifter says so.


I'm glad it's been roundly dismissed.   

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Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.
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