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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thanks Clint! You Just Handed Us the ELECTION!

That might seem like a rather cocky headline just a few days prior to the oncoming scourge that will be the Democratic Convention. At present, liberal pundits are excoriating Clint for his speech in Tampa. It's been a phenomenon to observe. Comedians like Stewart, Colbert, and Letterman no doubt will exploit the moment for all they feel it's worth. But the truth is, all the fury that folks like Michael Moore and a score of others have expressed over Clint's 10-minute tirade has launched this clip into the "viral-sphere." By now the number of Americans who have not watched it in its entirety is dwindling fast. And because of all the attention that liberal Democrats have personally drawn to it, they have no one to thank but themselves.

Yes, it will likely get more Youtube hits than even the speech of Mitt Romney. Don't get me wrong. I loved Mitt's speech. It was a brilliant combination of statements that humanized his appeal at the same time that it made it clear he is more than up to the job to become our next commander-in-chief. Though Obama-ites will do their best next week in Charlotte to resurrect the "etch-a-sketch" label Mitt received at the end of the primaries, I believe he has successfully shed this image forever. Still, despite all that Romney and Ryan and Rubio and Christie may have said in Tampa, I believe it might have been Clint who clinched the deal.

I watched it live. And I confess, I felt as nervous as Ann Romney looked. It was a nail-biter. He did appear elderly, a bit dissheveled, and way unpolished. I wasn't so sure at first about the "empty chair" schtick. Now I think it was brilliant. Who is Barack Obama if not an empty chair? But in spite of all the memes and philosophies that appear to have sprung up POST-speech, I have to admit that from the first instant this guy struck me as an icon of Americana. I was proud that he supported my candidate and I felt he might indeed make this moment quite special. It just doesn't get any bigger! Maybe if John Wayne were still alive. However, Clint Eastwood's politics are far more blurry than Wayne's. And in today's discordant America, I think that probably worked better. Eastwood has supported candidates from both sides of the aisle. I'm quite certain I disagree with him on certain social issues. But he wasn't talking to me on Thursday night. Or maybe he was. Heck, maybe he was talking precisely to me.

Honestly, he came off as just a regular guy. A bit of a coot. But with obvious wisdom and decades of experience behind that graveled voice and legendary wrinkles. He's a guy who clearly doesn't relish politics. Sure, he knows it's an unfortunate necessity, but most of the time he just has better things to think about. He seems most comfortable lampooning the whole affair. But doesn't that represent the attitude of most Americans?

No one else could have delivered the impromptu speech that Clint delivered. Not Rush Limbaugh. Not Sean Hannity. Not even Ronald Reagan. Just like his soft-spoken hero from the spaghetti westerns, Clint Eastwood represents "everyman" in a way that is slightly different from other Hollywood legends, but equally visceral. I believe he represented that same simple, hardcore, tough-guy character last Thursday night, and any effort that progressives might make to dismiss or deride what he did or said will come back to bite them--severely. Trying to knock this guy off his perch is like trying to knock ALL Americans off their perch. We're not perfect. Sometimes we ramble and fail to express ourselves in the most eloquent manner, but at our core we are solid. We are indefatigible. So when Clint opined (essentially, loosely): "We own this country. It belongs to us. It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or a Democrat or a Liberatarian or whatever--You guys are all great. And if the man we hired as president isn't getting the job done, well...we gotta let 'em go," he was again speaking as that same "everyman" from his iconic film roles. He was the no-name gunslinger. He was Dirty Harry. And the common-sense effect his words had (or will have) upon the presidency of Barack Obama will be withering, devastaing, and ultimately destroying. I believe Clint did more to unseat our Socialist-leaning POTUS than any other player in Tampa. He said things no polished politician or well-rehearsed "actor" might have said. Clint Eastwood, because of his undeniable status as a living icon, may have been the only one uniquely qualified to say the things he said. He really had no bone to pick in Tampa. No particular ideological horse in any race. And if he'd presented his speech in a polished, showman-like manner, I don't think it would have had nearly the impact. Or sudden impact (forgive the pun). It wouldn't have been real! It wouldn't have drawn the (necessary!) scorn and derision from the left. Let's face it. This thing shook 'em up over at MSNBC and the Huffington Post. It was a God-send. It inspired a viral video. I saw it live, but I've watched it twice more since, and frankly, the empty chair thing was a stroke of genious. The symbolism--probably entirely unintentional--will live well beyond this election cycle.

The point is, that it was me up there on that stage. And it was you. Or perhaps more accurately, it was the undecided, independent voter who just wants to live his life and forget about politics after Nov. 2nd. Honestly, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan already have my vote. Romney could have read the phone book Thursday night for all I cared. But I believe Clint Eastwood reached out to something more at the heart of this country, more central to what it means to be an American, and it was something that few others would have been able to reach. God bless him for it.

I'm not saying this roller coaster ride is over. Next week is going to be particularly bumpy. But when the smoke clears, the dust settles, and when, on November 3rd, the bad guys are all lying dead on the streets of Laredo (or Dodge or wherever), the man to thank just may be that lone, no-name gunman riding silently off into the sunset. Sure, he left some carnage in his wake, but ultimately what he left us was peace, prosperity, and hope for the future.

Chris Heimerdinger