Robrt L. Pela

But he didn’t inhale

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The 2012 Republican National Convention will likely always be remembered for Clint Eastwood’s rambling, more-than-slightly embarrassing chat with an empty chair. How to follow such thrilling theatrics?

Call a couple of potheads, of course. In an attempt to top Eastwood’s silly screed, President Obama telephoned a pair of Hollywood icons to ask for their support – or at least he pretended to. In a video clip that aired at the Democratic National Convention (and quickly went viral), Obama was shown calling Kal Penn and John Cho, better known as their stoner counterparts, Harold and Kumar, to request their help with his campaign. 

The spot shows the President picking up the phone and dialing the stars of the Harold and Kumar movies; when Penn answers, Obama says, “Hey, this is Barack. Listen, I need to know if you’re on board. Okay, good, because I’m counting on you. Everybody is. We have to get this right. There’s a lot at stake here.”

After the call concludes, Cho and Penn go back to watching TV. It’s an unconventional convention promotion, one surely designed to appeal to Obama’s younger, more liberal supporters. This sort of nudge-and-wink courting of votes was popularized by Bill Clinton, who wailed on a saxophone during a 1992 Tonight Show appearance and made wisecracks to Oprah about having “tried” marijuana in college.

The Kumar spot has been well received, much more so than Eastwood’s rambling, gravel-voiced conversation with an empty chair at the Republican Convention. Eastwood’s speech, in which he addressed the current president as if he were sitting in the empty chair beside Eastwood’s podium, has been criticized as a confusing and potentially damaging launch for Mitt Romney’s campaign.

“Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them?” the 82-year-old actor blathered. He then went on to discredit Obama’s promise to close the U.S. prison at Guantánamo, and to end the war in Iraq. His best moment may have been when he disparaged lawyers, and suggested it was a bad idea for them to become presidents.

Mitt Romney, like President Obama, is a graduate of Harvard law school.

Nice work, Dirty Harry. 

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