August 31, 2012

JENNIFER RUBIN: The Media Filter Died Last Night:

Rattled and bitter that they could not knock the Romney-Ryan ticket off-message, the Obama team and its allies in the blogosphere fixated on Clint Eastwood. Listen, I was there and it was darn weird. But at times it was funny and devastating in its dismissal of the president’s excuses. And in clips and sound bites the day after the live performance, the oddness is diminished and the punch lines seem more biting. In simple terms, the movie icon encapsulated the message of the convention: If someone is doing a bad job, you have to fire him.

Eastwood apparently so annoyed the egomaniacal president that the leader of the Free World felt compelled to hit back via Twitter (“this seat is taken”) at the movie star. Talk about losing your presidential aura. Empty chair = Obama is now a powerful association. Will the chair be in ads?

In this, as in so many other artificial kerfuffles, the media’s feigned outrage only serves Romney’s purpose. Now everyone is familiar with Eastwood’s cracks, and the conversation has taken the place of any criticism of the two nominees’ speeches.

Thursday night was a critical point in the campaign and arguably the point at which Romney (with help from Eastwood) broke free of the media filter. Recall last week that the entire press corps was focused on Todd Akin. Then it became an obsessive plea for more details about Romney’s policies, which, unlike the president, he has. Then there was the fixation on likability. That went down the drain when on Thursday night Romney appeared, if not likable, admirable. I now await the argument that personal qualities are irrelevant to the presidency.

Related: Getting To Know Romney The Do-Gooder. “Whatever the reasons, the degree to which Romney has been a practitioner of personal kindness and good works is extraordinary. Whether he wins the election or not, it’s clear that Romney is a very unusual human being, with a combination of brains, hard-nosed business sense and competitiveness, and personal kindness that goes way beyond anything most people consider necessary or even possible. For a politician, this is so unusual as to be unique. . . . People keep saying about Romney, ‘the more I know of him the more I like him.’ Not just on this blog, but in comments all over the internet. It strikes me that Obama is just the opposite—the more people know of him the more they dislike him.”

I just wonder if the Dems will be able to put together a video marking Obama’s selfless acts of compassion when no one was paying attention.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn:

I’m not sure he could have pulled that off if he’d delivered a slick telepromptered pitch. As Mr. Hayward suggests, the hard lines packed more of a punch for being delivered in the midst of a Bob Newhart empty-chair shtick from the Dean Martin show circa 1968. Indeed, they were some of the hardest lines of the convention and may well prove the take-home (“We own this country . . . Politicians are employees of ours . . . And when somebody does not do the job, we’ve got to let them go”), but they seemed more effective for appearing to emerge extemporaneously from the general shambles.

The curse of political operatives is that they make everything the same. A guy smoothly reading platitudinous codswallop while rotating his head from the left-hand teleprompter to the right-hand teleprompter like clockwork as if he’s at Centre Court watching the world’s slowest Wimbledon rally is a very reductive idea of “professionalism.” Even politicians you’re well disposed to come across as slick bores in that format. Which is by way of saying Clint is too sharp and too crafty not to have known what he was doing.

Oh, and next time ’round, he should sing.

Heh.

MORE: Reader Eduardo Alvarez reminds us that the empty chair had its own teleprompter.

And Ann Althouse comments: “Here’s the whole Eastwood performance. Is it really that hard to get? No, they’re merely playing dumb (and humorless), even though they want the other party to be known as ‘the stupid party.’”