After his appearance onstage with an empty chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention, actor Clint Eastwood was met with criticism from progressives and Democrats who gleefully mocked and parodied the moment. Mr. Eastwood improvised a theoretical interview with President Obama and later called the president "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," also noting, "I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle."
Some in the academic realm say the veteran actor is on a noble footing because he "embodies America's moral quest" and the nation's "search for meaning and purpose." So says one Sam B. Girgus, a Vanderbilt University professor of English and the author of the new book "Clint Eastwood's America."
He has meticulously gone through the actor's work — which soon will have a new entry. Mr. Eastwood, 83, will direct the upcoming film "American Sniper," chronicling the life of Christopher Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper with the most confirmed kills in U.S. military history.
"With films like 'A Fistful of Dollars' and 'Dirty Harry,' Eastwood was not perceived as being overly introspective and involved in ethical argument, other than as a kind of basic instinct for retribution and vengeance for evil actions and behaviors. You wouldn't have thought of him as a director who chooses films that raise ultimate questions," Mr. Girgus says.
"Eastwood, who has never evidenced a traditional religious point of view, seems to be questioning our ordinary life and trying to find different ways of finding meaning in it," the professor says, adding that he has much praise for the films "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima."
"Especially with Eastwood's background in conservative politics, his unprecedented achievement of filming the opposing sides of the same historic World War II battle and conveying the dimension of the human tragedy was extraordinary," Mr. Girgus says.
"As the four-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act approaches, the law remains unpopular with the public. Currently, 53 percent disapprove of the 2010 health care law while 41 percent approve of the law," says a weighty, meaty survey released by the Pew Research Center on Thursday.
And here's who disapproves of Obamacare and its looming sign-up deadline among various subgroups: tea partiers (97 percent), conservatives (95 percent), Republicans (89 percent), whites (62 percent), independents (59 percent), men (57 percent), seniors (56 percent), women (50 percent), Hispanics (47 percent), millennials (47 percent), Democrats (21 percent), blacks (18 percent), liberals (10 percent).
SOUNDS LIKE SCI-FI
The White House race and Hillary Rodham Clinton's place in it creates all sorts of phenomenon.
"Like almost all things Hillary 2016 — the ecosystem forming around her potential bid is unusual in its astonishing prematurity and scale," reports National Journal political correspondent Alex Seitz-Wald, who has made a running count of all the pulsing political pods that have materialized here.
"More than two and a half years out from the 2016 election, there are no fewer than nine PACs or super PACs that include Clinton's name in their own, according to Federal Election Commission records, on top of dozens of Hillary-themed websites," he says. "Some are serious efforts with real money and professional staffs; others seem well-intentioned, but politically unsophisticated; more still seem out make money or have missions and strategies too nebulous to comprehend."
Among them: Beyond Ready for Hillary, Hillary 2016, the Hillary Clinton Super PAC, Hillary FTW.
Oh, and don't forget the other side: Stop Hillary PAC, which raised $270,000 last year, plus the Clinton Project and Just Say No to Hillary PAC. Just to name a few.
Coming soon: The conservative Media Research Center will launch the first watchdog for America's Spanish-language media, a canny initiative reflecting a changing marketplace and electorate. MRC Latino will be introduced April 1 at a symposium at the Newseum, a mere six blocks from the White House. On the podium: Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican; Alfonso Aguilar, director of the American Principles Project's Latino Partnership; Daniel Garza of the LIBRE Initiative; Israel Ortega of the Heritage Foundation; and Izzy Santa of the Republican National Committee.
MRC Latino director Ken Oliver-Mndez will present the group's first ever analysis of news programming on leading U.S. Spanish-language networks. The panel will hash out "cutting-edge strategies and tactics for successfully communicating the conservative message to audiences of U.S. Spanish-language television news."
SAVAGE IN NEW YORK
Talk radio kingpin Michael Savage is thrilling New York City, new Nielsen ratings show. He has emerged as the leader of a very competitive pack, ranking as the most popular host on WABC talk-radio in the Big Apple.
"Once again, Michael is proving that borders, language and culture combined with passion, voice and thought cannot be beat," a spokesman notes.
On the popularity list, Mr. Savage is followed by rival hosts Don Imus, Pat Kiernan, Larry Kudlow, Mark Levin, the team of Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby, Geraldo Rivera, Noam Laden and John Batchelor.
WHY JOLLY IS JOLLY
Some quick insight from newly minted Rep. David Jolly, whose recent victory in a Florida special election stunned more than a few Democrats. He made it clear to Larry King, the veteran host of RT America's "Politicking," why Republicans and Democrats bicker.
"One of the issues why the divisions are so bad right now speaks not so much to the Congress. But once the Supreme Court allowed district lines to be drawn on political boundaries, we've created so many seats that are either super-Republican or super-Democrat. And therefore, we elect people that are either super-Republicans or super-Democrats. And so you get to Congress, and of course it's going to be hard to find common ground," Mr. Jolly observed.
POLL DU JOUR
• 82 percent of Americans rate the overall safety record of commercial airline travel as good or excellent; 89 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Democrats agree.
• 49 percent of Americans overall say they are "not at all afraid to fly"; 57 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats agree.
• 47 percent overall say it's safer to fly than drive on a long trip; 53 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats agree.
• 46 percent overall say they are willing to undergo longer security checks to improve airport security; 37 percent of independents, 46 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Democrats agree.
• 41 percent say "mechanical failure" is the greatest cause of fatal aircraft accidents; 45 percent of independents, 35 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of Democrats agree.
• 33 percent say they are "slightly" bothered to fly; 28 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats agree.
• 16 percent are "afraid" to fly; 15 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats agree.
• 7 percent say "sabotage or terrorism" is the greatest cause of fatal aircraft accidents; 8 percent of independents, 6 percent of Republicans and 5 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted March 11-13 and released Thursday
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