CLINT EASTWOOD WAS A DISTRACTION FROM
ROMNEY'S MESSAGE: WHAT A BRILLIANT IDEA.
The following is a typical conversation the day after the 2012 Republican National Convention:
Office Worker #1: Hey, did you see the convention last night?
Office Worker #2: No, I had Pilates. Did I miss much? How did Romney do?
Office Worker #1: Clint Eastwood spoke to an invisible Obama on an empty chair.
Office Worker #2: What?
Office Worker #1: I know, it's really fucked up. Come over to my desk, I've got it on Adobe Flash.
And there lies the collective takeaway by Joe and Jane 'Plumber' Sixpack of this year's GOP convention. Yes, there were a lot of speeches by 2016 presidential wannabes like Marco Rubio and Chris Christie (and a neverending supply of Republican women pretending to be happy); yes, there were copious amounts of Obama 'You-didn't-build-that' bashing and stirring up of the rabid Republican base; yes, there was lots of talk by Romney of 'optimistic nostalgia' and roses; but what will be remembered in the days and years ahead above all else is that on August 31, 2012, Clint Eastwood spoke to a fucking chair.
Now many political pundits and journalists have described this rambling, ad lib Dirty Harry Debacle as an unwelcome distraction from Romney's message. Instead of talking about the headliner the next day, insiders complain that everyone was discussing the message of Mr. Every Which Way But Loose, complete with 'make my days' and 'do what to myselves?'.
I must take issue with this analysis. Instead of castigating this speech as an embarrassing and unfortunate incident, we should actually be lauding it as a fortuitous moment for Mr. Romney's campaign. In fact, I will even go so far as to say that if this whole series of events with Bronco Billy was intentional, it is an act of sheer genius.
Now follow my three-pronged logic here because it's ironclad:
1. The Presidential race is tight and is going to stay tight up until November.
The days of the 20-point post-convention bump are over. Most likely, with no major fuckups on Obama's side, the two candidates will remain neck and neck by the end of this week. And barring any major 'Poland is not Communist' blunders in the debates, the race will remain perilously close right up to the election. It could literally go down to which candidate doesn't make any mistakes.
2. Therefore, all Romney had to do in his convention speech was not say or do anything stupid.
He is a presentable candidate who cleans up nice and has an Olan Mills photo frame family. The bar was set very low for Romney to come out shining. All he had to do was read his policy free speech just one notch higher than the level set at 'William Hurt' for him to look like a wellspring of emotion.
3. But just to be on the safe side, what would set the bar even lower?
Let's face it, there's not a lot of policy meat in Romney's speech so he's open to some criticism even if he reads it adequately. How, then, can his advisers provide a setting in which Romney cannot possibly ruin his chances and yet also be perceived as a substantial voice of reason? Easy peasy lemon squeezy--simply provide a smokescreen; a crazy distraction which would make everyone shift focus on this person and ultimately forget Romney's performance -- a babbling 'secret' celebrity --Mr. Million Dollar Boo Boo himself.
Now, we can debate about whether this Pale Rider Rant was planned or not by the Romney team (personally, in a convention where even the number of balloons dropped on American Samoa is calculated, I find it extremely difficult to believe that Firefox and his Obama Borscht Belt routine slipped under the radar) but you cannot deny that whatever the intent, Romney has come out smelling like the rose he spoke of in his speech. He got a little bump in the polls and he's back on the trail relatively unscathed and free until the next round of intense national scrutiny: the Oct. 3 Presidential Debates.
Space Cowboys' speech was like one of those great gridiron misdirection plays (Go Cornhuskers!) where all eyes are focused on the running back (the Eiger Sanction) and the quarterback (Romney) jaunts across the goal line. Or, if you naively believe this was a fortunate accident, it's like the movie Office Space when Ron Livingston's character, Peter Gibbons, is just about to admit embezzling from his firm, when the entire office complex burns down. He gets away scot free.
Exactly the same thing happened to Romney (we will skip the embezzlement reference). Instead of being dissected and held up to the fire for being vague, factually distortive or downright boring, Honkytonk Man acted as the fire. He took all the heat. Romney waved to the crowd while brushing off the soot on his suit. Now he's got a spring in his step and is more confident than ever.
So with the Democratic National Convention upon us, the honus is now on President Obama. Should he go for it and try to give a flawless and inspiring speech like in 2008? Should he try and knock one out of the park by defending the last four years, laying down some detailed future-oriented policy planks but possibly leaving himself open to critique? Or should he take a page out of the Romney 'trick' playbook? I propose the latter and play it safe.
Why not -- and just open your minds up a bit to some blue-sky thinking -- why not book Roseanne Barr to sing the national anthem Thursday night? People will definitely be talking about her crotchgrab the next day and not Obama's speech. Or what about Kanye West interrupting the President by jumping up on stage shouting, 'Beyonce deserves to be President, not you!' Or what if Axelrod schedules a Justin Timberlake/Rihanna dance number during prime time and he rips off her dress to reveal 'You Didn't Build This Either' panties.
Or perhaps the safest bet of all. I don't even know if he's a Democrat (but from his speech, I don't even know if Unforgiven is a Republican), but he would by far be the most distracting speaker of all: Charlie Sheen. Just slip him into the lineup (with some vodka and xanax) right before Obama's address. He'd walk out to confused cheers with a T-shirt saying 'Romney: Losing!' flanked by two prostitutes (porn stars will do). He will curse at an inanimate object (I recommend a hat rack), then be escorted off the stage by some burly Secret Servicemen (who also take the prostitutes away ba doom). Imagine the scuttlebutt at the water coolers of America the next day? They certainly won't be discussing any delicate climate meltdown, no siree, they'll be chattering about celebrity meltdown...and the President would ultimately be ignored and live to fight another day, just like Romney.
So Mr. President and trusted advisers, I realize that I am just a lowly blogger from blogsville and you have no reason to accept or even listen to my advice. But take it from me, cut your losses. Play it safe. Wait until the debates to make your move, and even if that becomes a wash, let the ad blitzes do your bidding. Just don't make any unforced errors right now. There's too much at stake.
On Thursday night, I implore you, don't slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet right now, just have a simple, all-American psychopath introduce you at this year's convention.
We're counting on you.