Most political commentators have dismissed Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republican National Convention, where the respected actor and director spoke to an empty chair as though President Barack Obama were sitting there, as odd and off-the-wall. But conservatives took to social media sites yesterday to defend Eastwood with a new meme called “Eastwooding” with what was called “National Empty Chair Day.”
Users would take a picture of an empty chair and upload it to Twitter or Facebook. Some users some got creative with the meme. @craigcarroll uploaded this humorous pic of an empty chair in front of a faded Obama poster — a play on a line from Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC on Wednesday evening:
Another hilarious pic via @kesgardner showed an empty chair in front of the Solyndra sign, the politically-connected failed green energy company that received millions in taxpayer-funding:
Many of the photos that came across my Twitter and Facebook feeds were funny, but the concept did little more than rile up liberals, which may be worth the trouble just by itself. And while pundits will be talking about Eastwood’s stunt at convention time every four years, Jim Huffman argues that the actor’s time at the RNC was a success:
What media critics heard as unprepared, bumbling and rambling prattle, millions of Americans heard as an expression of their frustration with nearly four years of economic lethargy and political divisiveness. What the naysayers heard as disrespect of the president, millions of Americans heard as a challenge to a leader often disrespectful of those who disagree with him. People do not soon forget when told that they cling to their guns and their religion, and that they have not built the businesses in which they have invested life and treasure.
A carefully vetted speech read from a teleprompter like most of the convention speeches would have been lost in the mists of endless and predictable words meant to inspire without offending, and without committing anyone to anything. Eastwood said what was on his mind. We need more of that in American politics — more honest debate and less pandering — more communication and less obfuscation.
Eastwood was not speaking to the Republican base or to independents, or to moderate Democrats. He was speaking to anyone willing to listen. Some who listened took offense. But my guess is that most who listened found themselves nodding in agreement and smiling at the jokes, even if off color.
Eastwood said what he thought and what a lot of other people are thinking. We own this country. Those we elect to public office work for us. If they don’t do their job, we fire them. Pretty basic stuff that most people, in most walks of life, understand. And, oh yes, there are even people in Hollywood who think it’s time to fire the guy at the top. A simple message, simply and effectively delivered.
It wasn’t so bad on a second viewing, but it mostly likely went over the heads of most undecided voters at the time — many of whom probably thought that Eastwood was rambling and about to tell Obama to get off his lawn. It was needed humor for a party convention, which is often boring. But the initial reaction of most people watching was “what is this?” and that only took away from speeches by Sen. Marco Rubio and GOP nominee Mitt Romney.