The Eastwood Speech: Old Man Yells At Chair, Crowd Goes Wild

Ken AshfordElection 2012Leave a Comment

So the "mystery speaker" last night at the convention wasn't a hologram of Reagan after all.  It was Clint Eastwood.  And by all acccounts, he gave a speech so bizarre that it is almost upstaging Romney this morning.

Eastwood's speech was ad libbed.  He just made it up, in a very distrubing prattling way.  The centerpiece of his speech was an imaginary conversation with Obama, played on the stage by an empty chair.

The best tweet response of the night noted this: “This is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama.”

As Rachel Maddow explained on the air once it was over, "That was the weirdest thing I've ever seen at a political convention in my entire life, and it will be the weirdest thing I've ever seen if I live to be 100."

Apparently, the Romney campaign thought it would be a good idea to send an 82-year-old man onto the stage without prepared remarks. Eastwood was an odd choice anyway — he's pro-choice and supports gay rights — but I can appreciate the fact that the man enjoys an iconic status. 

The most popular story on USA Today’s website is: “Clint Eastwood makes sudden impact at RNC.” From the story: “In an unusual speech for what is typically a highly scripted affair, Eastwood talked to an empty chair, which he addressed as if President Obama was sitting there. At one point Eastwood suggested the imaginary president had told him to say derogatory things. ‘What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. I can't tell him to do that to himself,’ he said.”

“Clint Eastwood was supposed to make Mitt Romney’s day. Instead, he made a mess of the Republican night,” the New York Daily News writes. “The Republican National Convention’s “surprise” act turned into a surreal shtick as the “Dirty Harry” actor delivered a swerving diatribe punctuated by a running conversation with an empty chair, a symbol of GOP dissatisfaction with President Obama.”

The New York Times: “Clint Eastwood’s rambling, head-scratching endorsement of Mitt Romney on Thursday set off immediate questions and finger-pointing among Romney supporters: Who booked Mr. Eastwood? Did anyone have an idea of what he was going to say? Did anyone read his remarks before they were broadcast? The actor, in one of the more unusual moments in Republican convention history, offered a speech in which he pretended to have an off-color conversation with an imaginary President Obama sitting by his side in an empty chair.”

Wonkette tried to explain it:

There is no way to explain whatever it was Eastwood did last night. It may have been a speech in the planning phases, but what came out appeared to be more of a prolonged, pseudo-political brain-fart, the weird consequence of propping up a spaghetti western star to observe him having a stroke.

Presented here are his exact words, trimmed because WOW there are a lot of them that didn’t make sense.

So I — so I’ve got Mr. Obama sitting here.

[We see he is gesturing toward an empty chair. Mayhaps Obama was busy?]

And he’s — I was going to ask him a couple of questions, but — you know about — I remember three and a half years ago, when Mr. Obama won the election, and though I was not a big supporter, I was watching that night when he was having that thing and they were talking about hope and change and they were talking about, yes we can, and it was dark outdoors, and it was nice, and people were lighting candles.

Fun fact: One of Eastwood’s speechwriters was the corpse of James Joyce.

They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is trying, Oprah was crying. I was even crying.

Obama: Bringing Oprah and Dirty Harry together, to weep. Vote Romney.

And then finally — and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country.

[All the employed people in the room clap.]

Now that is something to cry for, because that is a disgrace, a national disgrace, and we haven’t done enough, obviously — this administration hasn’t done enough to cure that. Whatever interest they have is not strong enough, and I think possibly now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.

THE ENDORSEMENT! “I think possibly now it may be time for somebody else to come along and solve the problem.” Clint might as well kiss Mitt’s feet!

So, Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them?

I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just — you know — I know — people were wondering — you don’t — handle that OK.

Here’s where it starts to kind of fall apart. Speeches almost always go downhill when they are interrupted by people who are being imagined. (Sermons notwithstanding, of course.)

Well, I know even people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn’t close Gitmo. And I thought, well, closing Gitmo — why close that? We spent so much money on it. But, I thought maybe as an excuse — what do you mean shut up?

Guantanamo Bay: Because we’ve just sunk so much damn money into indefinite extrajudicial detention already.

OK, I thought maybe it was just because somebody had the stupid idea of trying terrorists in downtown New York City. I’ve got to to hand it to you. I have to give credit where credit is due. You did finally overrule that finally. And that’s — now we are moving onward.

Props to Clint on this one. Political conventions hardly ever feature “giving opponents credit for stuff.” This made the speech much better.

I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s okay. But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean — you thought that was something worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it — they did there for 10 years.

There’s no snark left in the tank here. The man made no. sense. (Also: It is totally hunky-dory to be against the war in Iraq. Good to know.)

And then, I just wondered, all these promises — I wondered about when the –

What do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that. I can’t tell him to do that to himself.

Clint Eastwood: Will let gays get married and babies get aborted, will not tell Mitt Romney to fuck himself. Noted.

You’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy. You’re getting as bad as Biden. Of course we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic Party. Kind of a grin with a body behind it.

What other kind of grin is there? Is Eastwood seeing disembodied grins? WILL NO ONE HELP THIS MAN?

But I just think that there is so much to be done, and I think that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are two guys that can come along.

He’s really laying it on thick, you guys. I think he might consider maybe almost voting Republican.

See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to be the president, anyway.

(Small sample of the presidents who were also attorneys: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt. Also a graduate of Harvard Law School: Mitt Romney.)

I think attorneys are so busy — you know, they’re always taught to argue everything, always weigh everything, weigh both sides. They are always devil’s advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know, all that stuff.

Screw Abraham Lincoln and his rotten bifurcating face.

But, I think it is maybe time — what do you think — for maybe a businessman. How about that?

Hey… maybe?

A stellar businessman. Quote, unquote, “a stellar businessman.” And I think it’s that time.

And I think if you just step aside and Mr. Romney can kind of take over. You can maybe still use a plane. Though maybe a smaller one. Not that big gas guzzler you are going around to colleges and talking about student loans and stuff like that. You are an — an ecological man. Why would you want to drive that around?

OK, well anyway. All right, I’m sorry. I can’t do that to myself either.

Mitt Romney will trade you a small plane for the presidency, please. Also, fuck college students and their hippy-dippy demands for “an affordable education.” Also, Faux-bama is RUDE.

I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen. Something that I think is very important. It is that, you, we — we own this country.

[Cut to shot of ecstatic middle-aged white people.]

We — we own it. It is not you owning it, and not politicians owning it. Politicians are employees of ours. And — so — they are just going to come around and beg for votes every few years. It is the same old deal.

(See: Conventions like the one at which Eastwood said this.)

But I just think it is important that you realize , that you’re the best in the world. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you’re libertarian or whatever, you are the best. And we should not ever forget that.

Republicans are the best! Democrats are the best! Even Ron Paul weirdiesare the best!

And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go. Okay, just remember that. And I’m speaking out for everybody out there. It doesn’t hurt, we don’t have to be—

[He is interrupted by a real person.]

I do not say that word anymore. Well, maybe one last time. We don’t have to be — what I’m saying, we do not have to be metal [???] masochists and vote for somebody that we don’t really even want in office just because they seem to be nice guys or maybe not so nice guys, if you look at some of the recent ads going out there, I don’t know.

Don’t vote for people you don’t want to be voting for, kiddos. Probably.

But OK. You want to make my day?


All right. I started, you finish it. Go ahead–

[Audience: Make my day!]

Thank you. Thank you very much.

In other news, early reports indicate an empty chair was just elected president.

Anyway, enjoy it for yourself:


The reaction from Andrea Mitchell and Brian Williams is funny:


UPDATE:  The invisib;e chair has a twitter feed.