Last night, the country was introduced to Invisible Obama and the Empty Chair, courtesy of the Republican National Convention and RNC mystery guest Clint Eastwood. Eastwood was generous enough to bring along his own mystery guests—Invisible Obama and Empty Chair—so the Twitterverse would have a new meme. But Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's top aides are not pleased with the Oscar-winner's improv skit.
"Not me,” said an exasperated-looking senior adviser, when asked who was responsible for Mr. Eastwood’s speech. In late-night interviews, aides variously called the speech “strange” and “weird.” One described it as “theater of the absurd.”
Finger-pointing quickly ensued, suggesting real displeasure and even confusion over the handling of Mr. Eastwood’s performance, which was kept secret until the last minute.
A senior Republican involved in convention planning said that Mr. Eastwood’s appearance was cleared by at least two of Mr. Romney’s top advisers, Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens. This person said that there had been no rehearsal, to the surprise of the rest of the campaign team.
But another adviser said that several top aides had reviewed talking points given to Mr. Eastwood, which the campaign had discussed with the actor as recently as a few hours before his appearance. Mr. Eastwood, however, delivered those points in a theatrical, and at times crass, way that caught Romney aides off guard, this person said.
Also: Eastwood HATES teleprompters.
The Romney campaign tried to spin Dirty Harry's rambling monologue/foray into vaudeville as an unexpected delight, "Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn't work. His ad libbing was a break from all the political speeches, and the crowd enjoyed it." However, Ann Romney was not very enthusiastic, telling CBS Early Morning , "He's a unique guy and he did a unique thing last night." And when she was asked if she was surprised, "I didn't know it was coming," and then changed the subject, "Again, I can tell you we're grateful for everyone's support and especially grateful for what a great night it was last night."
The New Yorker's Amy Davidson wrote that Eastwood's speech resulted in a "sketch of a certain Republican-leaning sensibility: careless with facts, grumpy, xenophobic, scornful, more isolationist than its establishment realizes, and on the verge of assuming a stance of threat." The Onion's headline says, "'You Did Great!' Terrified Personal Assistant Tells Clint Eastwood"
Eastwood, a longtime Republican as well as hero to the GOP base, is not commenting. His manager told the Washington Post that he's" busy selling" his next movie and pointing out that the iconic Hollywood star doesn't have a publicist, "Nobody speaks for Mr. Eastwood." Invisible Obama, meet Invisible Eastwood!