Clint Eastwood & the Imaginary President
There's been a ton of media coverage of and conversation about Clint Eastwood's bizarre performance at the Republican National Convention Thursday evening, including here at Ohio Daily Blog.
In fact, it probably eclipsed attention to all other aspects of the convention by a 10-1 margin. Paul Ryan is probably breathing a sigh of relief because Eastwood stepped on the crescendoing roar about Ryan's shameless lying. As for Romney — poor Mitt Romney! — I haven't found a single person who can even remember what he talked about, coming onstage after Eastwood.
One point that many people have made that I find especially interesting is that when Eastwood was talking to the chair — scolding and condescending to an invisible President Obama — he was talking as well to a fictional President Obama. He was talking to the boogieman that Republicans invented to demonize and fight against, to mobilize their base and allow them the luxury of believing that racism had nothing to do with it — it's really, honestly, swear-ot-god just that this President is a Kenyan Nazi Socialist Communist Fascist Dictator-in-Waiting who is coming to your house to personally rip your gun from your hands.
I ran across this column, "The Invisible Socialist President," by Patrick Giusto, which describes what was going on exceptionally well:
Giusto calls himself "a humorist" and "a defender of common sense." He's certainly the latter in this piece.
Put simply, they [Republicans] have been running against a fictional candidate made entirely out of BS and fear for the entirety of his presidency. And these are not typical we said/he said policy lies, either. These are bizarre, hyperbolic, fear-driven, questioning-the-man’s-identity-as-an-American and a decent human being type of lies. All of them fact-checked by multiple sources, all of them blatantly untrue.
He goes on to say,
And what's worse, the GOP electorate are eating it up. They are now literally distrustful of multi-sourced facts, because they believe a second delusion that the media is part of some absolute, left-wing conspiracy to promote the Presidency; which leads me to a serious concern that we have bigger problems in this country besides our political divide. Because it doesn’t matter what party you identify with; if you’re going to be so purposefully ignorant of fact and truth that you actually manifest your fear into a totally new creation, devoid of reality, that’s not politics anymore.
That is approaching the literal definition of insanity.
Unfortunately,several of the comments prove Giusto's point. One claims that the "bizarre, hyperbolic ... type of lies" on which the right has based its attacks on President Obama "sounds similar to what the Democrats think of and did to President George Bush."
Well, no. Not remotely. That commentor should ask himself why George Bush was absent from the Republican Convention, both in person and in name. His POLICIES proved so poisonous to the country even Republicans know better than to mention him. Other than the usual handful of purity progressives, the anger directed by Democrats — and many independents and even a few Republicans — at Bush had to do with his actions, not fictitious scare stories about where he was born. And the handful on the left who made claims like "he's going to declare martial law and cancel the 2004 election" (a claim I first heard in the early 70s about Nixon — yawn) were never ever embraced by the Democratic Party or its candidates or sitting officeholders.
You don't have to spend much time on Google to find plenty of Republican officeholders questioning whether President Obama was born in the U.S. Even Mitt Romney has been casting oblique aspersions in this direction, pandering to that base "so purposefully ignorant of fact and truth that [they] actually manifest [their] fear into a totally new creation, devoid of reality." A candidate with honor and dignity would be standing up there saying, "Come on, folks — we may not share the same ideas about how to move this country forward, but there is absolutely no question he is a loyal, native-born American citizen."
But Romney has proven to be a candidate without honor or dignity, a guy who probably lucked out that he was upstaged by a weird rant from an aging actor.
Another commentor doubled down on the "devoid of reality" aspect of modern right-wing thinking, saying,
Like Obama or not, he hasn't done much during his 4 years. He ran on various promises yet he's out spent every President prior to him, has taken more vacations than any other, yet he claims it's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, really?
This comment doesn't contain a shred of truth. Not one. Yet this person uses this total fabrication as justification for why Obama should be a "one-term man."
Finally, another commentor quotes Chuck Norris' "dire warning for America" that "our country as we know it may be lost forever," citing an actor magnitudes crazier than Eastwood.
And if these people get their way and the pretend Obama who has never existed is turned out of office in November, these same people will be devastated by the policies of the REAL Mitt Romney. I wonder what they'll be saying then? "I have no job, the bank took my house, my Social Security and Medicare have been raided to give Romney and his friends tax breaks — but at least he's white"?