By: Juan Cole
“You can’t see me, but I’m talking to Clint Eastwood sitting spectrally in an empty chair, and I am replying to his confused rant.
1. Mr. Eastwood, you called the failure to close the Guantanamo Bay penitentiary a broken promise. President Obama was prevented from closing Guantanamo by the Republicans in Congress, which refused to allocate the funds necessary to end it. Do you remember this Washington Post headline, “House acts to block closing of Guantanamo”?
2. Mr. Eastwood you called “stupid” the idea of trying terrorists who attacked New York in a civilian courtroom in New York. But what would have better vindicated the strengths of America’s rule of law, the thing about the US most admired abroad? Mr. Eastwood, perhaps you spent so many years playing vigilantes who just blew people away (people who in the real world we would have needed to try to establish their guilt or innocence) that you want to run our judicial system as a kangaroo court.
3. You complained that there are 23 million unemployed Americans. Actually there are 12.8 million unemployed Americans. But there are no measures by which W. created more jobs per month on average during his presidency than has Obama, and there is good reason to blame current massive unemployment on Bush’s policies of deregulating banks and other financial institutions, which caused the crash of 2008.
4. You criticized President Obama for giving a target date for withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan of 2014, and alleged that Romney said, “Why don’t you just bring them home tomorrow morning?” But George W. Bush set a target date of 31 December, 2011, for withdrawal from Iraq, and did so in negotiation with the Iraqi parliament. Was that also a bad idea? Have you considered that NATO allies and the government of President Hamid Karzai may have demanded an announced withdrawal date as a prerequisite of continued cooperation with the US there? And, just for your information, Gov. Romney hasn’t called for US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan immediately.
5. Mr. Eastwood, you made fun of Joe Biden as the ‘intellect of the Democratic Party.’ Vice President Biden was chair or ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for decades, helped to save the Bosnian Muslims from genocide, and passed the Violence against Women Act. I haven’t always agreed with him myself, but he has been among our more thoughtful contributors to American foreign policy. You, on the other hand, like to pretend to shoot down large numbers of people over the course of a violent two-hour fantasy.
6. You criticized President Obama for ‘talking about student loans.’ The Republican Party, especially Paul Ryan, wants to take away the government-backed loans on which millions of students depend, at a time when student indebtedness is at an all-time high. Just because some people are way overpaid for play-acting doesn’t mean that ordinary people don’t need student loans to get the credentials that allow them to make a better life for themselves.
7. Mr. Eastwood, you criticized President Obama for saying he is an ‘ecological man’ but flying in Air Force One. Under President Obama, non-hydro forms of green energy in the United States have doubled from 3 percent of electricity production to 6 percent. Obama’s tax credits have been a big reason why. In contrast, Mr. Romney wants to get rid of credits for wind energy, which will hurt the Iowa economy, e.g., and is in the back pocket of Big Oil, so that he will stand in the way of green energy. I think doubling renewables rather offsets an occasional jet ride. And, it is Obama’s policies that will get us to the solar-driven airplane, not Romney’s.
8. You made fun of Obama because he has a law degree from Harvard. I just want you to sit in your empty chair for a while, and think about that.
9. You called Mr. Romney a ‘stellar businessman,’ but his business appears to have been to send American jobs to China.
10. I don’t know who suggested to you that you address us at the end and say, “Make my day,” with the implication that we should vote Romney-Ryan. But what I remember is, that phrase is a threat you are going to do bad things to us.”