The 82-year-old actor-director-tough guy gave a bizarre and rambling, sometimes incoherent speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, centered on a mock interview with an imaginary President Obama sitting in a nearby empty chair.
Eastwood took a few shots at the incumbent. “What? What do you want me to tell Romney?” he asked the chair six minutes into his performance-address. “I can’t tell him to do that. He can’t do that to himself.” The crowd responded with a roar of whistling, laughter and applause.
Eastwood’s speech is a telling point in U.S. history, in which an overwhelmingly white, presumably middle- and upper-class crowd cheers the rabid nationalism, confused peacocking and vacant flattery of a fading national icon at an inaugural event for a campaign in pursuit of the highest office of government.