DETROIT – Clint Eastwood made Mitt's day.
The 82-year-old actor has been roundly ripped for his Thursday night speech at the Republican National Convention where he debated an invisible President Obama sitting in an empty chair. The pundits called it rambling. Nuts. Senile.
But Eastwood's speech was a political masterpiece for Romney who can't get the dislikable-rich-guy thing to go away. With his 11-minute prime-time improv, Dirty Harry moved the Republicans toward the middle because he said it.
He called the 23 million unemployed Americans a national disgrace. It is.
He called the Iraq and Afghanistan wars folly. They are. Even the conventioneers clapped their right hands off at that one.
He reminded us that we the people own this country and politicians are our employees.
Eastwood knows this whole election hinges on pulling the working guy – a real problem for the party of Tax Cuts for the Wealthy. Pennsylvania. Ohio. Wisconsin. Michigan. As we go, the election will go.
Most working guys who supported Obama will tell you that the president is an empty chair when it comes to the economy. After all, he turned the money problems over to Wall Street – those who created the money problems in the first place with a helping hand from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Remember that Obama's Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is a Goldman Sachs alumnus who didn't pay his taxes.
Obama didn't create the financial mess but four years later, the banks are still to big to fail, sub-prime mortgages are again in vogue. They got their bonuses and we bailed them out. Four years later we're still wondering on this Labor Day whether we're going to have a job next month. That's why this thing is even close.
I met a guy named Paul on lunch break in downtown Detroit the other day.
His short story went like this. He was laid off from his auto job two years ago. Then he lost his house, which had lost half its value. As things go when you have no work, Paul lost his wife.
"I voted for change," he told me. "I voted for change in my pocket. I still don't got none. "
Eastwood, the Hollywood guy, knows that Paul the Working guy sees Mitt Romney as the Wooden guy dressed in a $1,000 suit.
Romney has offered no comprehensive economic plan beyond tax breaks for the rich and Medicare cuts for the elderly. Romney also offers no explanation about his off-shore bank accounts, why he won't make public his tax-returns for the past 10 years, his religion or the fact that Obamacare is based on Romneycare enacted when Romney was the governor of Massachusetts.
Romney's had problems defining himself. He's unctuous and unlikable and the polls haven't budged. For all the bile Eastwood's taken, give him credit. He wrote the line Romney ought to be using over the next two months
"When somebody doesn't do the job," Eastwood said, "we've got to let them go."
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