Editorial | Student loans no laughing matter
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 07:09
On Aug. 30, Clint Eastwood gave a speech at the Republican National Convention lambasting President Barack Obama. Rather, he lambasted an empty chair, conjuring an imaginary Obama – or Fauxbama -–for the audience. His now-notorious empty chair speech has garnered a lot of buzz, but to a college audience, one moment deserves particular note.
About eight minutes into his speech, Eastwood asks Fauxbama to relinquish his title to Romney, adding he can use “the plane,” or Air Force One, as a sort of consolation prize. “Although maybe a smaller one. Not that big gas guzzler you are going around to colleges and talking about student loans and stuff like that.” Here, a transcript of his speech marks a moment of applause.
It’s true that Romney’s campaign focuses less on the issue of student loans than Obama’s does. But it’s also true that for millions of voters, policy regarding student loans is a crucial factor in this election. For Eastwood to use talk of student loans as a punch line is careless and reflects poorly on the GOP for condoning this tone-deaf proclamation on a national stage. Perhaps the 82-year-old Hollywood icon departed on this tangent jokingly, but to diminish a topic that many young Americans care about to the status of “stuff like that” is woefully out of touch.
Though it’s possible that Eastwood’s off-the-cuff rib was merely the unfortunate result of the actor/director having not written his speech beforehand, this doesn’t excuse his careless words. Though a video of Eastwood’s speech captures the applause punctuating his wisecrack, The Associated Press reported in the aftermath of Eastwood’s empty chair rant that “stern-faced Romney aides winced” during the speech; it’s good to know we weren’t the only ones cringing.