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The smiles are a little more strained this morning.
It's a toss-up whether the funnier part of Clint Eastwood's speech last night was the part where he mumbled at an empty chair, or the part where the Romney campaign bumped its well-produced, reasonably effective bio video off network television to show Clint mumbling. But whichever it is, here we are the next morning, still laughing about it. Twitter was, of course, a steady stream of mockery, and still is. But just as entertaining was watching traditional media types who feel they need to be dignified and neutral trying to contain their shock and come up with ways to describe what they'd just seen.
The actor, in one of the more unusual moments in Republican convention history, offered a speech in which he pretended to have an off-color conversation with an imaginary President Obama sitting by his side in an empty chair.
That is actually a masterful sentence and, no joke, I can see why you might need two writers to get to it. Conveying how bizarre Eastwood's appearance was to people who didn't see it is a tall order.
Then you've got the responses from the political world, with Obama's campaign practically dancing in glee and Romney's campaign struggling to be upbeat about the whole thing—"His ad libbing was a break from all the political speeches, and the crowd enjoyed it" is the best they could do, really? Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt said he was "Referring all questions on this to Salvador Dali." David Axelrod looked at it as a strategist:
“I’m sure in retrospect they would have rather run the film [bio video on Romney] than the filmmaker, but that is their business and we will handle ours a different way,” said Axelrod, referring to the Democratic convention.
Ann Romney, too, admitted her husband's campaign might have been better off showing the video or really almost anything else:
I think it's important that people do see that side of Mitt. We appreciated Clint's support, of course, but it's so hard to really get a sense of who this person is in such a short amount of time, but yes, I do wish more people had seen those touching moments.
In short, Clint Eastwood put David Axelrod and Ann Romney on the same page, only the latter had to strain for gratitude with lines like "He’s a unique guy, and he did a unique thing last night" while the former could just laugh about it. Ann apparently had a little more trouble being poised and diplomatic in the moment, though:
Watching Ann Romney during the Eastwood address, according to NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson, was like watching “the mother of the bride listening to a drunken wedding toast.”
I don't know about you, but that thought doesn't make me stop laughing.
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:12 AM PDT.