Clint Eastwood Speech At RNC 2012 Was Bad For Speakers

Let me begin by saying, I am a Clint Eastwood fan.  In movies. As a director. And likely, he’s the kind of guy I’d like to have a drink with. As a speaker, however, I have a problem.  Let’s break it down. (If you haven’t yet seen it, you’ll find a video of the speech from YouTube, below.)  I am technically an Independent voter, and am not here to discuss the “merits” of his points, rather the problem with “celebrity speakers”.

Clint EastwoodOn August 30, 2012, on the final night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, Clint Eastwood took to the stage as a much ballyhooed, “mystery speaker” who had been pumped up by the media for the entire convention.  He hit the stage with an image of a gun-wielding cowboy – perhaps from “Fist Full of Dollars” or perhaps “The Outlaw Josey Wales”…it doesn’t matter.  We all know him, and as I said before, his body of work is iconic as the classic bad-ass — he even usurps Chuck Norris.

Some celebrity speakers use their fame to advance a cause.  George Clooney has raised international awareness of the issues in Darfur.  Lance Armstrong (yes, I remain a fan of his, too) has raised hundreds of millions for cancer research through the Lance Armstrong Foundation /Livestrong.  Charlton Heston, another actor, was very involved in political activism, including his role of President of the National Rifle Association. Others, however, use their “celebrity” as a money grab (Seriously, people PAID to have Snooki show up at their event?).  Eastwood was somewhere in-between.   I’m certain his endorsement of Mitt Romney as the Republican GOP’s candidate for President of the United States (POTUS) is sincere, but the speech…well, let’s get to that.

Clint Eastwood, from a speaker’s point of view:

  • Never take your “imaginary friend” on stage with you – Sure, it sounds good in a conference room, or at the bottom of a great glass of scotch, but portraying the sitting POTUS as an imaginary guest in a disrespectful bit where you imply he is using profanity and spouting rhetoric the speaker himself would not dare say out loud is gimmicky, cheap, and disrespectful to the office.
  • If you do use an imaginary friend, have a script.- Having originally missed seeing or listening to the speech live, I read a copy of a transcript of it, and was unable to decipher what, exactly, was going on. I honestly thought he may have suffered a stroke from the platform. The video confirmed it was…well…on purpose.
  • Comedy is based in Tragedy-  In a political speech, no doubt, a little bit of comedy can go a long way to “humanize” a speaker. Eastwood’s use of a comedic (and I use that word loosely) sketch comedy bit was…well, simply tragic.
  • Make sure you have something to say- Early in my career as a speaking professional, my own father spoke those words of wisdom to me about my aspirations. He quickly followed with, “I’ve heard many-a-speaker talk for hours and hours about absolutely nothing.” Dad, I’m not certain Mr. Eastwood would have passed your test with his performance.
  • Never upstage the headliner- I recently attended a session at the National Speakers Association national conference about how to add “spectacle” to your speech and make your event memorable.  Okay, sir.  If the tweets immediately following and subsequent media chatter about your speech are any indication, you did just that.  Then again, Mitt Romney seems to lack that X-factor from behind the podium I look for in any speaker.
  • Suggesting the student loan debt in the United States is a throw-away issue might work against the votes your party needs to win the upcoming election.  Student loan debt is the next big economic issue we must address as a country.  At over $1 Trillion, there are more student loans than unsecured consumer debt or total dollars spend to bailout Wall Street investment banks during this past Presidential term. (See also this article from the New York Times) As a member of Generation X married to a Generation Y spouse and having dealt with that issue in our household, I don’t think your suggestion that President Obama’s addressing that topic on college campuses was a worthless exercise was appropriate.

Finally, there was the Freebird moment, when a random conventioneer yelled out for Clint Eastwood to recite his famous line, he quite successfully used the “Call and Response” technique by uttering “Go ahead…” to which the audience said, “Make. My. Day.” before erupting with thunderous applause as he concluded his speech.

Was the Clint Eastwood at RNC 2012 memorable, yes. Entertaining, of course.  Serious, not really.  Did it do any favors for those of us who take speaking seriously as a profession…not at all.

Cooksey To Emcee Tulsa Stars Event for Palmer Fundraiser

From (<--click for original article)
1/24/2009 2:21 AM
Last Modified: 1/24/2009 2:38 AM

If a private dinner with a well-known personality sounds interesting, fun and exciting, this one is for you.

Stars with Tulsa connections such as actress Mary Kay Place and “The Ultimate Gift” author Jim Stovall will be part of the auction action at the Dining with Tulsa Stars benefit, 6 p.m. Thursday at the Jazz Hall of Fame.

Proceeds will benefit Palmer Continuum of Care.

Other stars to be auctioned include Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor; Burns Hargis, Oklahoma State University president; Kristin Glover, the “Dad’ll do it” girl from the television ads; Wayman Tisdale, jazz musician and former NBA player; John Starks, former New York Knicks player and now author and sports commentator; Jimbo Elrod, OU All-American and former player for Kansas City Chiefs; and Stacy Prammanasudh, LPGA golfer and TU All-American.

Although some of the stars will not be able to attend Dining with Tulsa Stars, they will be sending a message.

For the auction, each celebrity will be coupled with a restaurant, including Bodean Seafood, Michael Fusco’s, Los Cabos, Local Table, KEO, Bone Fish, Sonoma, Brasserie, Lava, Mahogany’s and Palace Café.

Jay Litchfield also will auction off an exclusive one- week, all-inclusive vacation for two at the Sandals Resort in Montego Bay donated by Magoon & Associates.

Entertainment will be provided by John Hamill and his jazz trio including Max Surry and Leon Rollerson with vocalist Rebecca Marks-Jimmerson performing Bessie Smith specials and other well-known blues vocals.

Chris Heroux is 2009 chairman of the Palmer Board of Directors.

Committee members include Kelly Sudduth, Carrie Classen, Scott Cooksey, Kara E. Jones, Jeff Harjo and Elisa Heroux.

Sponsors include Cyclonic Valve, Bette and Michael L. Graves, and George Kaiser Family Foundation as gold sponsors; Ruth K. Nelson, Magoon & Associates and Heroux & Pollard, PLLC as silver sponsors; and an anonymous major sponsor made in memory of Harold Katz, former executive director of Palmer.

At least 90 percent of the funds raised through ticket sales and 100 percent of the auction bids will help those who need substance-abuse treatment but cannot afford it. Palmer, a Tulsa nonprofit organization for 25 years, treats more than 1,000 people each year through substance-abuse programs dedicated to helping adolescents and women with their children.

Tickets are $45 per person. Tables of eight are available for $350.

For more information, visit or call Paula Hall-Collins at 230-7669.

By DANNA SUE WALKER World Staff Writer

Chocolate FAME?

In high school, my old Scoutmaster gave me a modem for my computer. When I asked “what is this for?”, he replied with “So your computer can talk to mine.” My response, “Why would I want to do that?”

Fast forward about 20 years and now we all live in a world awash with terms like “viral marketing” and “YouTube” (often used as both a noun AND a verb). Loosely, these ideas stem from unusual attempts of ordinary people (or savvy marketers posing as ordinary people) who post home-made video to the internet for the world to see. Sometimes, it’s a short film, sometimes it’s just plain bizarre and other times, it’s a more serious message. Enter Adam Bahner a/k/a Tay Zonday creator of “Chocolate Rain“, one of the internet’s most famous stories of viral marketing success. See his appearance at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show here:

Why did this video become such a “success”? Well, that’s to be determined. What it DID do, however, was slingshot this grad-school student into international fame and demand by a media hungry audience. All he did was follow his creativity to play up a goofy video and highlight his unusually low voice. What happened next was unpredictable. I just hope in a few years, we don’t find out he’s in a crisis state or rehab due to not being able to handle the end of his 15-minutes of fame and “celebrity” status.

So, the next time you have a corny idea for a video post. Say to yourself: “Self, let’s shoot some video and see if by some random happenstance of events I might wind up getting paid for corporate and media appearances.” Why not!