Let me be very clear about this.
Clint Eastwood has never been my favorite actor.
I've seen many of his movies over the years. Some I have liked better than others.
But that is the thing, you see. I've never regarded Eastwood as anything other than an actor. Oh, I know he was mayor of a small town south of San Francisco for a couple of years in the 1980s, but he's not an actor/entertainer/politician like George Murphy or Arnold Schwarzenegger — or Ronald Reagan.
Politically, Eastwood has always leaned toward the Republican Party, but he has often taken positions that were at odds with the GOP. In 1974, he told Playboy that he was a "political nothing ... a moderate," and, 23 years later, he told Playboy he was a libertarian.
He supports a number of things that most Republicans do not — he's pro–choice and a supporter of same–sex marriage. He has endorsed Democrats and liberals in the past.
In 2008, though, he endorsed John McCain for president so it really shouldn't be surprising that he has endorsed Mitt Romney this year. (It may be disappointing to some diehard Democrats, but it really couldn't be surprising.)
Politically, I suppose, Clint Eastwood is a bit of an enigma to many people — and his "speech" to the Republican National Convention last week is something of an enigma as well.
Before that performance, I guess a lot of folks expected him to be the tough guy he has often been in his movies when he came out on the stage. Instead, what they got was something of a comedy routine.
To be honest, the thought that went through my mind was that only Eastwood could do this and get away with it — kind of like when Henry Fonda played the really bad guy in "Once Upon a Time in the West."
Fonda had always been the good guy, never the villain. The role was such an extreme reversal that Fonda made the character seem even more menacing, more terrifying than he would have been in anyone else's hands.
For many moviegoers, it was as if Fonda had been captured by the body snatchers, and a mean, vicious person who looked and sounded like Fonda had been left in his place.
Even before Eastwood took the stage, I had decided not to judge his performance as I would a career politician. Consequently, I was not expecting him to deliver a traditional convention speech.
But, apparently, some folks were — and I've been amused to watch their horrified responses.
The usually verbose Rachel Maddow was, seemingly, at a loss for words, finally labeling Eastwood's presentation as "the weirdest thing I've ever seen at a political convention in my entire life."
And MSNBC's uber leftist evening anchor Ed Schultz moaned sanctimoniously about how Eastwood's routine was "demeaning" to the presidency.
Seems to me Schultz really ought to be more concerned about what demeans journalism.