Actor Clint Eastwood gave a speech on August 30, 2012 at the Republican National Convention that will not be forgotten any time soon. After going off script and speaking to an empty chair, representing a missing President Obama, he said the President “was crazy.” I’m not sure that was in his prepared text, but that’s what happens when you take a three minute speech and drag it out to fifteen. Mr. Eastwood is a former businessman and, according to Republican nominee Mitt Romney, that is an essential qualification for President. So maybe that’s why Eastwood was given such a prominent role before Romney spoke.
What kind of corporate man was Eastwood when he owned his restaurant, “Hog’s Breath Inn,” in Carmel, California, when he was mayor? How did he treat his workers and what did he think about unions? It turns out Eastwood hired Martin Jay Levitt, the notorious private consultant who wrote a book in 1993 called “Confessions of a Union Buster.” Levitt described some of his tactics:
- reviewing medical records for damaging information on employees;
- discrediting managers who were sympathetic to unions;
- fighting against minimum wage laws;
- sending out junk science articles, some of which had data “I just made up;”
- creating distorted double-speak to confuse the issues;
- creating lobbying groups with massive amounts of money and All-American names;
- bargaining in bad faith;
- stirring up racism; and
- ignoring safety of workers.
After he woke up in an alcoholic rehab center, post divorce and bankruptcy, Levitt realized the shame of what he had done and wrote his book.
I doubt Clint Eastwood ever read Martin Levitt’s book, and, after hearing Eastwood’s speech, I have no doubt he would hire men like Levitt again and bash unions, working people who are injured, and anyone else who dared defend the rights of working people. Was the Romney-Ryan campaign sending America a message when they put Eastwood on the stage in prime time? Time will tell.