NYTimes Pins Clint Eastwood's 'Bizarre, Head-Scratching 12 Minutes' Directly on Mitt Romney on Saturday's Front Page

Mitt Romney can't win: Either he's being upstaged by a great speaker (Paul Ryan) according to reporter Adam Nagourney, or he's being embarrassed by a "bizarre" one (Clint Eastwood) according to Michael Barbaro and Michael Shear on Saturday's front page, "Before Talk With Chair, Clearance From the Top." The Times may be trying subtly to put Mitt Romney's chief executive skills in question with movie legend Clint Eastwood's speech.

For all the finger-pointing about Clint Eastwood’s rambling conversation with an empty chair on Thursday night, the most bizarre, head-scratching 12 minutes in recent political convention history were set in motion by Mitt Romney himself and made possible by his aides, who had shrouded the actor’s appearance in secrecy.

Mr. Romney privately invited Mr. Eastwood, of “Dirty Harry” fame, to speak after the actor had given him a gravelly, full-throated endorsement at a star-studded fund-raiser at the Sun Valley Resort Lodge in Idaho this summer. “He just made my day. What a guy,” Mr. Romney joked with his donors that night, flanked by the fake log columns of the lodge.


Mr. Eastwood’s rambling and off-color appearance just moments before the biggest speech of Mr. Romney’s life instantly became a Twitter and cable-news sensation, which drowned out much of the usual postconvention analysis that his campaign had hoped to bask in.

It also startled and unsettled Mr. Romney’s top advisers and prompted a blame game among them. “Not me,” an exasperated-looking senior adviser said when asked who was responsible for Mr. Eastwood’s speech. In interviews, aides called the speech “strange” and “weird.” One described it as “theater of the absurd.”

Shear returned to Eastwood in his Monday rundown of the five things Democrats must do at their convention in Charlotte, calling the speech "the Clint Eastwood mess."

Unfortunately for the Times, the public reaction to Eastwood's criticism of Obama was pretty positive.