The first, and to my mind less likely, thought/theory was that this was Clint’s payback for the GOP jumping all over those Chrysler ads.
The second thought/theory that is that the GOP has laid a very impressive, very sneaky trap. We know Obama is a raging narcissist who hates to be challenged—that he has a notoriously thin skin and obsesses over his coverage in the media. What are the odds that he’s going to be able to resist poking back at Clint for this slight? Is he really going to let this slide? Or will he lash out at his own convention speech? Will he make this a joke on the campaign trail, turning a venerable, grizzled American icon into the latest iteration of Romney’s dog, Seamus?
I think this would be a massive mistake. Judging by my Twitter feed, we media elites think that Eastwood is just some doddering crank rambling at an empty chair making half-jokes and insinuating that the president wants Romney to go f—k himself. But I have a feeling it played better in the main of the country. It certainly played well in the convention hall. Does Obama really want to be seen attacking an American hero for the crime of cracking a few jokes? Is he going to vilify the heartland’s grandfather figure? Does the left-wing media really want to start the drum beat that this was a horribly racist event, as a few are already attempting? Don’t they see the potential for backlash against Obama? There’s no quicker way to lose a true independent than telling them that they’re racist. “You may have voted for Obama four years ago, but if you think this is funny you are a horrible racist.” You think that’s going to play with swing voters?
If Obama and the media really go on the offensive against Clint, I think it could cost them votes in key states throughout the Midwest. Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri—these are tight states full of middle-aged and elderly voters who grew up idolizing The Man With No Name. I’s recommend thinking very carefully before turning Dirty Harry into a campaign stop applause line.