A Hollywood icon had a senior moment, or several, in the lead up to the most important speech of Mitt Romney’s career. We’ve had a few days now to let the chuckling subside, and wipe tears of laughter from our eyes, and so it’s time to reflect on what this means for the Republican Party. Why in the hell did the Clint Eastwood thing happen at all?
We can look back over thousands of years of history and find innumerable examples of this most embarrassing affliction of the human experience. In more contemporary language, hubris is when one lets his ass show. The GOP let its ass show when it stuck an 82 year old man, unscripted, in front of a live mic, with millions of people watching. The handlers of the event thought it would be cool…Clint Eastwood is, after all, very cool.
But what happened wasn’t cool: it was embarrassing to this man, who is a legend, and the party who should have known better. Romney probably deserved a little better, too. Maybe.
The Republican Party stepped into the spotlight, its defining moment of the 2012 election season, and exposed itself for what it is….an ego maniac.
“You don’t know the power of the dark side,” says Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. It could have been what Romney uttered to himself when he went to bed last Thursday night, knowing the country was exploding with laughter at his expense, and at the expense of a venerated elder.
Hubris can be seductive for anyone. The ego is an appetite all of us must learn to master, or lose control to, at one point or another. What is disturbing about the Republican Party is its members share a communal ego, and continually stroke it. This is how mass delusion is fueled: lots of people believing each others bullshit, and calling it righteous.
A few examples of GOP hubris:
• Selecting a presidential candidate whose claim to fame is his money makes money, and he ran the Olympics once. Wealth at this level is synonymous with hubris. But who cares, right? If he spouts conservative ideas, and plays the game, what difference does it make who he is? I would mention he was govenor of Mass., and passed ground-breaking health care reform, but he won’t.
• A take-no-prisoners stance on abortion. This is the most loathsome plank in the GOP platform this election season. A bunch of arrogant men deciding what is and isn’t appropriate for a woman and her body is perverse. Any political party that decides its religious belief supersedes a woman’s right to make her own medical decision is tyrannical. Anyone recall what theocracy means?
• Romney dismissing climate change. Since selling his soul to the GOP for a crack at the Oval Office, the once relatively rational Romney has taken the opinion of the hard right, which is that climate change is a liberal lie. This is hubris taken to a nearly apocalyptic level. I have an ecologist in the family who studies climate change and the environment…he’s the most pessimistic guy I know on the subject. For the GOP and their candidate to dismiss thousands of scientist (i.e. people smarter than them) is like them mooning at the Super Bowl Half Time Show.
Please, Mr. Romney and folks at the GOP put your pants back on. Listen to reason, consult experts, acknowledge your constituents. You are not rock stars. While showing off, you embarrassed everyone, including Mr. Eastwood.
Have some class.