Sources have confirmed that "Dirty Harry" himself, Clint Eastwood, is about to sweep into the Sunshine State to serve as the so-called "Mystery Speaker" tonight at the Republican Snooze Fest--better known as the Gathering of Pasty White People--in Tampa.
Eastwood's announcement earlier this summer that he was endorsing Mitt Romney during a $2 million fundraiser at his vacation home in trendy Sun Valley, Idaho--where the likes of "Dirty Harry" Callahan would never be caught--was more than a bit self-serving and revealed that, perhaps at 82, Eastwood is little a out of touch with the wage-earning and beer-guzzling audiences that once gobbled up his cinematic fare.
Dare I proffer that Squirrely Squint--with his estimated net worth of $375 million--has become a one-percenter?
There's always been a bit of Atilla the Hun in Eastwood's cinematic politics. During the height of the anti-war, civil rights and women's movements of the 1960s and '70s, Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" films resonated with a vigilante and reactionary undercurrent distinctly at odds with the times. Roger Ebert went so far as to call those early Eastwood movies "fascist," while Pauline Kael dubbed them "deeply immoral...right-wing fantasy."
That was putting it politely.
Eastwood's film persona may have mellowed over the years--though his 2011 apologia for J. Edgar Hoover's Kremlin-like assault on civil liberties was nothing less than shameful--but off the screen, he has been a loyal Republican, supporting a string of GOP presidential candidates during the past half-century, including the ill-fated McCain-Palin ticket four years ago.
More recently he's described himself as a "libertarian" and voiced support for Ron Paul. And Herman Cain. And Newt Gingrich. Though he strangely mocked Mitt Romney when queried about him last fall by the Los Angeles Times:
When Eastwood was in Massachusetts in 2002, filming Mystic River, Romney was running for governor there. "I saw a lot of him and you have to admit -- he looks like a president," Eastwood recalled with a tone that you'd have to describe as being slyly sarcastic. "I mean, if you were casting a movie where you needed someone to play president, you'd definitely pick him."
Eastwood, of course, has a political resumé of his own, having served a two-year term as mayor of the upscale and frighteningly white community of Carmel--with a population of 3,800, there were only eight African Americans recorded in the 2010 census--very close in size and demographics to Sarah Palin's Wasilla, albeit without the meth labs and strip malls.
Eastwood's major claim to fame during his short-lived tenure as mayor was legalizing the eating of ice cream on city sidewalks--though this so-called libertarian also broadened the role of government by building public restrooms and beach walkways, along with expanding library services.
It's not exactly a finely nuanced political philosophy.
In Sun Valley earlier this month, Eastwood hypocritically changed his spin on Romney's appearances, saying that Romney "is too handsome to be governor, but he does look like he could be president." Now that Romney was the nominee, the sarcasm was gone; Eastwood has always been an opportunist.
Perhaps recognizing that Romney's facial features might not constitute all of the skill-set required to lead the Free World, Eastwood added that we need "a decent tax system" in which people "are not pitted against one another."
Ah, the "tax system." That explains it. Yet what we know of Romney's detail-light tax plan (according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center) is that it will increase taxes for working families and provide whopping tax savings to those making more than a million dollars per year. Even Forbes magazine challenged its viability. It's a tax plan designed to benefit the likes of Romney and Eastwood.
Talk about "indecent"--and who's "pitting" whom against whom?
"I think the country needs a boost," Eastwood concluded in his Sun Valley endorsement. Boost--that's a Republican euphemism for trickle-down-economic theory, only there's no trickle.
Ironically, Eastwood got into some hot water earlier this year with conservative kingpins Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove for his narration of a Super Bowl ad for Chrysler entitled "Half-time for America," in which Eastwood intoned, "We find a way through tough times, and if we can't find a way, then we'll make one."
Though the Republicans have lied through their teeth about the auto-bailout, it was the economic policies of Barack Obama that saved the auto industry during the "tough times" created by Republican president George W. Bush, whom, by the way, Eastwood also endorsed. Moreover, neither Eastwood nor Romney supported the bailout--an economic program that has put thousands of Americans back to work and kept Chrysler in business. And which, no doubt, paid Eastwood more than union scale for his narration.
Of course, Eastwood's personal life doesn't really reflect the narrow concept of family that's being promoted in Tampa, either. His tally of seven kids with five different women isn't exactly Romneyesque. And his support for gay marriage goes in direct contrast to the GOP platform. Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that Eastwood's current multi-ethnic family--depicted bizarrely in the reality TV series Mrs. Eastwood & Company--isn't really being reflected either in person--or in policies--at the GOP's Wonder Bread convention in Tampa.
Eastwood will, indeed, be Romney & Company's "mystery man" tonight in Tampa, but there will be no mystery in his remarks. They will be riddled with further hypocrisy and deceit and a healthy dose of opportunism. That you can count on. "A good man," declares Dirty Harry in Magnum Force, "always knows his limitations." Apparently, his creator does not.
Award-winning writer and filmmaker Geoffrey Dunn's best-selling The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power was published by Macmllan/St. Martin's in May of 2011.