How to tell you’re winning: Media STILL throwing a fit over the Empty Chair

In the last four days, there’s been a wave of indignant gasping-and-pointing over last week’s Republican National Convention. The “tsk-tsks” have been nearly constant from the media, as they’ve been recoiling from the horror. The casual observer might wonder what monster, what barbarian, caused this nationwide media hissy fit?

It was just….Clint Eastwood, saying we shouldn’t re-elect President Obama.

This seems to have left rather a mark.

If you somehow haven’t seen it yet, or if you’ve only seen part of it, take a minute and check it out (at the link below). We’ll wait for you to come back.

*** Clint Eastwood’s Speech for the RNC – “Empty Chair” ***

There. Fresh in your mind? Great.

Now take just the next couple of minutes and read this post from Karl over at HotAir’s Greenroom, and let him do some top-flight analysis for you.

Here’s an excerpt:

Moreover, as a director, Eastwood has a reputation of knowing exactly what he wants. Also, he does not prefer to do many takes:

“The big question, for me, is how to do it so the actors can perform at their very best and with the spontaneity that you’d like to find so that the audience will feel like those lines have been said for the very first time, ever. Then you’ve got a believable scene.”

That approach is entirely consistent with Eastwood’s talent as a jazz pianist, someone who enjoys improvising within a framework. The fact that Eastwood’s performance was not loaded into a teleprompter does not mean it was unplanned.

If you doubt that Eastwood was not simply winging it, don’t watch his performance —read the transcript. There may be no better indicator of just how intentional Eastwood’s performance is than to compare the visual impression he gave with the text delivered.

Eastwood begins with a touch of Admiral James Stockdale, but Clint answers the question of why he is there. The fact is that everyone really knows why Clint is there — to make a political statement. But Eastwood, in mentioning that Hollywood is perhaps not as monolithic as the stereotype suggests, is making a subtle suggestion to the audience he wants to reach: you may be part of some left-identifying group, but it’s okay to disagree and there may be other quiet dissenters in your group.

Eastwood then introduces the dramatic device of the empty chair, which in this context also echoes the political metaphor of the empty suit. This has been remarked upon, particularly as an echo of comedic dialogs from people like Bob Newhart, so I won’t dwell on it here, although it reappears below.

Eastwood then proceeds to use this comedic device to deliver — as Mark Steyn noted in passing — some of the toughest political attacks on President Obama heard during the entire RNC. A number of the traditional speakers strove to play on swing voters’ disenchantment with the failed promises of Hope and Change. But notice how tired and traditional that just sounded in your head. Mitt Romney (likely with help from a professional political speechwriter) did it pretty well: “You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.”

But did anyone do it as powerfully and emotionally as Eastwood’s segue from everyone — himself included — crying with joy at Obama’s historic victory to the tears we now shed over 23 million still unemployed, which Clint bluntly called a national disgrace?

Karl’s whole post is excellent, so for the entire article, head over to the Greenroom.


3 responses to “How to tell you’re winning: Media STILL throwing a fit over the Empty Chair

  1. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. It’s interesting that the DNC now has Betty White (age 90) poised (possibly) to do a similar address as Eastwood. Clint had his usual bare, casual style–and most importantly, substance. Unfortunately, Betty will have to fly on her charm and style alone.

  2. Pingback: Today’s Media: “Benghazi? Never heard of it…” | Two Heads are Better Than One

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