HOLLYWOOD legend Clint Eastwood has lashed out at US politics and the rise of ultra-conservatives.
CLINT Eastwood has taken a swipe at rising bigotry and ignorance in the US, as the nation’s politics turns toxic with extreme views.
The respected 80-year-old actor and director says US politics has become “messy” and is attracting “the wrong people”.
Eastwood, speaking in New York before the release of his new film, Hereafter, which he directed, did not name individuals or organisations. But he appears to be pointing at the rise of anti-establishment and ultra-conservative groups such as the Tea Party, which are pushing for smaller government and lower taxes but still want financial help for jobs, services and a crackdown on immigration.
Referring to his role in his 2008 film Gran Torino, Eastwood suggests many Americans could follow the character’s example.
“We’re in a kind of a strange era now, and it might be that they need more people like Walt Kowalski who are willing to continue learning and expanding,” he says.
In Gran Torino, Eastwood plays a disgruntled, racist Korean War veteran, recently widowed, who resents his neighbours, an ethnic Hmong family from Southeast Asia. He eventually develops a relationship with the family and defends them against local thugs.
At this year’s mid-term elections, Republican Party candidates backed by the Tea Party are campaigning hard against President Barack Obama’s health and financial reforms, but they also back a mixed bag of issues such as opposition to Muslims, Mexican immigration and homosexuality.
“It seems like now, as you would move and try to make government bigger, it makes the job appealing to the wrong people to become the leaders, instead of getting people that are helpful . . . everybody has their own personal ambition,” Eastwood says.
Eastwood’s politics are known to lean towards the Republican side, and he has generally backed less government intervention. He endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008, saying he had known the US senator for 35 years.
When Obama was elected, Eastwood pledged his support to him and wished the new president well. He has also supported some prominent Democrats in his home state of California. He served one term as mayor of Carmel after vigorously opposing the small town’s highly restrictive municipal rules.
While Eastwood’s comments yesterday appear to be aimed mostly at the new crop of ultra-conservatives, some of his criticism could also be directed at Obama, who raised high expectations of hope and change, yet fell short because of the recession and staunch resistance.
He says Americans are getting the politics they deserve after not being careful enough.
“It’s a game now where everybody promises,” he says. “The people who promise you more, you go for . . . The public is slowly getting wise to it, as we go deeper and deeper into debt . . . If we could just go back to the mentality of ‘save for a rainy day’.”