Political Conventions come and go, but the memories last for decades after the more bland speeches are all but lost to history. Often is isn't even the presidential acceptance speech that is most remembered from the convention itself. Some of the most remembered speeches were made by someone other than the president or party nominee. Let us put Clint Eastwood and his chair speech in the context of other great convention memories.
In 1980, Ted Kennedy stole the show with his concession speech, that wasn't a concession speech. Ronald Reagan impressed audiences with how well at ease he was at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. While the only thing we remember about President Carter's speech is the mistake he made in calling Hubert Humphrey, 'Hubert Horatio Hornblower..."
Conventions '88 more memories were made with from, again, speakers who were not the presidential nominees. Future President Bill Clinton gave the Democrats a speech to help ease them into their beds, a long and boring nomination speech. No one can recall exactly what he said, only that he said too much. Ted Kennedy gave his "Where was George Speech?" in response to where exactly GHWB was during Reagan's Iran-Contra dealings. George Bush, while not the whole speech was memorable, had two lines repeated over the next 4 years. "A Thousand Points of Light" and "Read my lips, no more taxes". One line would be used to poke fun at him on Saturday Night Live and the other would come back to haunt him during the 1992 campaign.
In 1996 the Democrats offered two strange memories. Unlike the Eastwood speech, they were scripted moments (crosses fingers). On day 3 of the DNC in Chicago, famous baseball personality Harry Caray led the convention in a round of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'. Caray traditionally sung this tune in the seventh-inning stretch. Why it was being sung at the DNC I have no clue. The Democrats also held a dance session of the old mid 90s sensation the Macarena. Imagine an entire convention hall of political delegates, members of congress, governors, senators and the like 'trying' note the word 'trying' to dance a sequenced dance. To make matters worse, C-Span has included it as a clip! WATCH HERE...YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! If you were around for the '96 DNC and RNC, can you remember any of the speeches? I thought not. Not very memorable.
In 2004, Barack Obama stole the show at the DNC with his speech and in 2008 it was Ted Kennedy who captured the eyes of the nation with his surprise convention speech in Denver.
For 2012 Clint Eastwood appears to have done the same in Tampa. I don't remember a word Kerry spoke when Obama made his speech in 2004 and even just after one night, a speech that should be fresh in my memory I can't recall a thing Romney. I do remember him walking in through the convention floor, but as for the speech itself, 'Make My Day' is what is stuck in my mind.
Still one more convention to go....