- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2012

In Hollywood, it’s easier to be a drug addict, drunk driver or adulterer than it is to be a Republican. The liberal power structure is ready to forgive any crime except the casting of a vote for a right-of-center candidate. Actors or musicians who dare associate themselves with the GOP put their careers at risk.

A few aren’t afraid. Clint Eastwood surprised the Republican convention in Tampa on Thursday with a stage appearance in support of Mitt Romney. The Oscar-winning director and actor acknowledged at the start that he was breaking out of the Hollywood mold.

“You’re thinking, what’s a movie tradesman doing out here? You know, they’re all left-wingers out there, left of Lenin,” he told the cheering crowd. “But that’s not really the case. There are a lot of conservative people, a lot of moderate people, Republicans, Democrats in Hollywood. It’s just that conservative people, by the nature of the word itself, play it a little more close to vest. They don’t go around hot-dogging it.”

Mr. Eastwood’s unscripted monologue included a mock interview with President Obama in an empty stool. The president immediately tweeted back, “This seat’s taken” and posted a photo of himself seated in the Cabinet Room chair with a link to his campaign website.

The Hollywood echo chamber piled on. Actor Chris Rock tweeted, “Clint Eastwood on the phone with Obama now: ‘It all went according to plan, sir.’ ” Movie critic Roger Ebert: “Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic.” Actor Jason Biggs: “Clint Eastwood talking to a non-responsive stool sorta sums up Christianity in a nutshell, huh Republicans?”

A few other Hollywood stars were visible in Tampa, including Academy Award winner Jon Voight. Actress Janine Turner had a speaking role, telling delegates, “Mitt Romney will preserve this exceptional American legacy. Barack Obama will destroy it.” Actor Stephen Baldwin, brother of uber-liberal Alec Baldwin, was also in town.

While Republicans aren’t going to score the Top-40 bands for their national get-together, they were able to attract some well-known musicians to perform. The convention’s official entertainment included G.E. Smith & the G.E. Smith Band, the Oak Ridge Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd and 3 Doors Down. “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks sang “Takin’ It to the Streets” before Mr. Romney’s speech on Thursday night.

Not all the bands are openly supporting Mitt Romney for president, but all were willing to risk Hollywood hostility to perform in Florida. Outside the official activities, the American Action Forum hosted nightly concerts at nearby Liberty to benefit Citizens Helping Heroes, which aids wounded military.

The performers included known conservatives Trace Adkins and Kid Rock, who changed the lyrics of one song to say, “That’s why I vote Romney-Ryan.” The group Journey played Thursday night after Mr. Romney accepted the nomination without hinting at their political preferences.

Voters aren’t likely to be swayed by the opinion of a celebrity, but stars like Mr. Eastwood generate enthusiasm for a ticket that continues to gain momentum.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.