Unquestionably, his bizarre “speech” at the final night of the Republican convention will be the most memorable thing about that collation of lies, dissembling and historical revisionism.
But there’s one part of it that particularly struck me which hasn’t gotten much attention: that final chant of “make my day,” Eastwood’s famous line from
Dirty Harry Sudden Impact.
Maybe it’s because I believe that there’s a significant element of the current GOP which would like to see Obama assassinated…and because I find so much of the GOP rhetoric positioned to frame him as someone who should be killed (“we own this country”…”we need to take our country back”…”you need an American”…Obama is not a “real” American…the astonishing, appalling disrespect of pretending that you are talking to “Mr.” Obama, who is sitting down in a chair while you do so, pretending that he would tell Mitt Romney to go fuck himself…how many people in that audience last night would have referred to Obama as boy in that hypothetical situation?)
…but I found it downright ominous when 15, 000 white people, talking about an African-American president, shout at the top of their lungs, “Make…My…Day!”
You will remember what happens to the violent
“punk”—a word implicitly attached to Obama in this back-and-forth—lying on the ground in the seconds after Dirty Harry utters that phrase….”boys” just seconds after Eastwood calls them out on thinking that they could get away with robbing America the diner…
It’s one of the reasons why I think Obama will go down in history as a truly great man; I think of him watching that scene, knowing exactly its implication, yet unable to come out and say so, and doing a remarkable job of remaining calm and apparently forgiving.
You just know that some Tea Party Person, somewhere, who thinks that Obama is an Africa-born Muslim socialist, is sitting in his basement thinking about what he will have to do if Obama wins in November.
The Republicans say that Obama is preaching disunity and division, yet they employ the rhetoric of assassination—and if anyone in public life were to come out and call them on it, they would scream bloody murder. This is as dangerous an election as I can remember.