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How Clint Eastwood Boosted Barack Obama’s Reputation

By now you know about Clint Eastwood’s delightful speech at the Republican National Convention. Delightful being a relative term. It was a delight from an observer’s point of view thanks to its entertainment value, but a little less so for anyone playing an active role in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

You know how it went: the screen legend spent 12 minutes talking to an imaginary Barack Obama in an empty chair. He questioned Obama’s unfulfilled promises, his qualifications and his suitability for the role. He ignored facts and similarities between Obama and Romney.

He underlined a commonly accepted notion that actors and politics don’t really mix.

He also underlined how public reputations can be surprisingly affected by the actions of third parties.

Four days after the event, if you type ‘clin’
into Google, the third result is “Clint Eastwood Speech” and they’re not talking about any of his many Oscar acceptance speeches. The top results include headlines that use the words “baffling”, “bizarre”, “crazy”, “weirdest” and “destroy”. All of the results relate to Eastwood’s reputation, his legacy and his awkwardness.

Interestingly, Romney and the Republican Party have escaped relatively unscathed. Results for “Mitt Romney” are Clint Eastwood speech-free while “republican national convention” only has one Clint Eastwood speech result toward the bottom of the page. It seems that people have made the distinction between the ramblings of an 82-yearold man and the political ideology of the people who invited said rambling old man to be an extra-special guest speaker. They’ve separated Romney from Eastwood; which is fortunate for Romney.

But while Eastwood is facing a barrage of comments about his age, his decrepitude, his decreasing mental faculties and a twitter profile called @InvisibleObama (with over 67 000 followers), Obama is emerging as something of a white knight.

This is the surprising effect of Eastwood’s speech. Obama has come out saying that he is still “a huge Clint Eastwood fan” and shrugged off questions about whether he was offended by the speech by saying that people who are easily offended shouldn’t be in politics.

He also joked about the speech on Twitter.

It’s fair to assume that Obama is offended. Who wouldn’t be? But his response has given him one more opportunity to show his strength of character.

When the Republican Party gave Clint Eastwood his platform; they unwittingly provided Obama with one of his own.


(Image credit: Vectorportal, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)

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