We’re going to hear a lot about Clint Eastwood’s dementia moment at the RNC last night. But I want to focus on something Romney said and the connection to Dirty Harry. Romney praised Neil Armstrong and then said “when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.” An American. Like Armstrong, Romney, and, apparently, not Obama. In tandem with his recent birth certificate “joke” this offers a clear indication of where Romney is going to go if he feels his campaign is floundering. Coded racism and xenophobia. The subtle invocation of Obama’s Otherness. Hilary Clinton tried it during the primaries last time but it didn’t work. What about this time?
During Eastwood’s rambling-through- the crazy-forest speech he led the crowd in a Make My Day chant. Let’s remember: Dirty Harry in the 1971 film wasn’t just a rogue cop. He was a defender of the beseiged white race, using his macho grit and big gun to eliminate the black and brown scum who were threatening to overrun America’s cities. Flash forward 40 years and here comes Dirty Harry again, tottering out on the stage to tell the overwhelmingly white crowd that “we own this country.” Reminds me of all of the right-wing “take the country back” slogans we’ve seen from the Tea Party in recent years. All that was missing was the big gun.