Last night a bunch of us sat around the table with snacks, laptops and a couple of beers and watched the final night of the Republican National Convention. I got my Twitter on, poking fun at various things, getting into arguments with strangers who liked to just call me names, and several times just getting angry. Angry at the things being said, the way they were said, and the outright lies that had been already called out and disproven in the media but repeated ad nauseum during the speeches.
But I was also saddened by the speech given by Clint Eastwood.
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house, often watching sports or movies with my grandfather. He loved adventure movies, westerns in particular. One winter afternoon I remember very clearly, my aunt had recorded a bunch of movies off of HBO and since the weather sucked, we popped in the tape and watched a John Wayne movie, The Dirty Dozen, and The Outlaw Josey Wales. That stuck with me, because it became one of my all-time favorite movies. But we would watch A Fistful Of Dollars, The Good The Bad And The Ugly, and a lot of other westerns, as well as the Dirty Harry movies (when my grandmother wasn't around and I was a bit older).
I have always been a Clint Eastwood fan, the movies he was in, the movies he directed, even liked his being interviewed. I would not often agree with him, but always got a feeling of direct honesty and no bullshit attitude from him that I respected. Then last night happened. Watching him talk to an empty chair in what could have been a powerful bit of satire but ended up being a rambling semi-coherent series of odd ad hominem statements and vaguely depressing attempts to frame the president as a swearing moron, I wanted to be sarcastic and mocking, but instead just got sad.
It made me very sad to see Josey Wales appear to ramble, and act like this confused old man who fortunately had a crowd-pleasing catch-phrase to end with. I couldn't really make fun, but I did at least like the Twitter account that popped up, Invisible Obama.
What really made me both sad and angry, though, was not the repeated lies told by the various speakers trying to portray the President as a malevolent dictator, not the racist/birther comments in Romney's speech, but rather the attempt to humanize Romney by having people come out and tell stories of their suffering, dying children wracked with disease and how the Romneys visited them and helped them. I will assume the stories are true, and credit the Romneys for showing basic human compassion that their politics and party refuse to show, but the act of politicizing and using the stories of suffering, dying sons of these parents for emotional leverage and political gain royally pissed me off.
In 1998, I spent two weeks after my first son was born at 26 weeks gestational wondering which side of the 50/50 survival chance he would end up on, while my wife spent those thirteen days also in the hospital with a very serious infection that at one point nearly became life-threatening. I remember sitting on the floor of the room in our apartment that was to become the baby's room, alone in the dark, completely losing my shit and crying for an hour. It may have been one of the darkest times of my life, with a couple possible exceptions.
So I felt for those people. I might not have shared their pain, but I could identify with the mother sitting in the ICU next to her son, and to see them being exploited by the GOP for political gain made me furious. It wasn't just one story, that's all they had was dying children stories to show how the Romneys really care about people or some such. I felt like it was someone using my painful memories to persuade me that the elitist, out-of-touch child of privilege was just like me, and that is one sure-fire way to get me angry.
Pile that on top of the repeated effort to dehumanized the President, blatantly lie about him, and blame him for the direct results of the actions of the very people doing the talking (I am looking at you Paul Ryan) and its no wonder that looking at my Twitter feed last night you can see how it want from light-hearted poking fun to a bit angrier and caustic as the night went on.
Meanwhile an old man whose accomplishments and body of work I still respect, yelled at a chair and claimed it told him to tell Romney to go fuck himself while people cheered.