Was Clint Eastwood a disaster or a coup?

Published: Monday, Sept. 3 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

"OK, so I'm not going to say that this wasn't a weird speech," Hemmingway wrote. "It was delightfully weird. But it was also effective among non-D.C. types. He mocked Obama and accused him of things — hypocrisy, incompetence, mismanagement of wars and terrorism. He also went after the entire political charade — right there in the middle of the GOP convention! The way politicians just say things to get elected. He told us all - whether we're Democrats or Republicans or libertarians, that we all can come together to get rid of Team Obama."

Even prim former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, usually a hard sell who rarely pulls punches on her own side, approved.

"Clint Eastwood was funny, endearing — 'Oprah was crying' — and carries his own kind of cultural authority," Noonan wrote. "'It's time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.' He was free-form, interesting — you didn't quite know what was going to come next — strange and, in the end, kind of exhilarating. Talk about icons. The crowd yelling, 'Make my day,' was one of the great convention moments, ever."

The pro-Eastwood consensus on the right seems to be that in his halting, disjointed manner and disheveled hair, Eastwood evoked Peter Falk's Columbo — hunched over and mumbling in a rumpled raincoat to appear harmless and out of touch, but then turning back at the last moment and saying, "Just one more thing" before springing the trap.

It is still far too early to tell, but if Noonan and her ilk turn out to be right, Eastwood's performance may go down as a classic moment of disconnection between the elites and the streets.

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.

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