In case you missed it, the Clint Eastwood speech at the Republican National Convention is all the rage today. Indeed, it appears to have overshadowed both Marco Rubio’s eloquent self-promotion and Mitt Romney’s capable acceptance speech. Here it is:
Clint started off alright. The first minute and a half was not bad. But then it quickly went downhill as he began to interrogate an imaginary Barack Obama with stumbling, awkward one-liners. At that point I was half expecting a young lady to walk out on the dais and say “Grandpa, what are you doing out here? You forgot to take your medicine!” All he was missing was a bathrobe.
Dirty Harry had been reduced to this? Even in the 2008 film “Gran Torino” Clint still had enough gravitas to growl a plausible threat to neighborhood hoodlums. But here he just appeared disheveled and confused. And my thoughts shifted away from his embarassing fumblings to the sad way that time + mortality manages to strip even the most noble of us down to our humblest parts. At the end when Clint joined the audience in a rousing rendition of “Go ahead, make my day!” it felt like the threat might have been directed to another senior eying the chocolate pudding at the retirement home lunch counter.
Then my thoughts turned to a lyric sung by another aging gentleman. WAY back in the sixties Roger Daltrey of The Who belted out “I hope I die before I get old” in the classic song of youth rebellion “My Generation”. Daltrey is 68 now. Does he still perform “My Generation” in public? Does he now sing it tongue in cheek? Has he redefined “old” to include anybody over 90?
I don’t hope I die before I get old. I think I’d like to go like the historian Howard Zinn. He worked right up until his death from a heart attack at age 87. That sounds about right. But if a time comes when a microphone does me more harm than good, I hope that those around me have the presence of mind to block my way to the stage.