It was surreal watching Clint Eastwood, a man with five Academy Awards sitting on his mantle, performing an improvisation with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention this past Thursday. Eastwood’s performance art was the opening act before Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave his speech nominating Mitt Romney for President, followed by Romney and his own Big Speech. This was either the dumbest idea ever or an absolutely brilliant idea — and considering how dull and uninspiring Mitt Romney’s speech turned out to be, perhaps it’s the latter. Not that there hasn’t been awkward programming at past Democratic National Conventions. Remember Vice President Al Gore leading delegates in an awkward, robotic macarena in 1996? Sorry for bringing that up…now you’ve got the damn song stuck in rotation, too.
I realize Clint was only ‘pretending’ to have a conversation with President Obama by addressing the chair, as if the POTUS’s invisible simulacrum were sitting there, but, like me, weren’t you answering back…in the chair’s stead? Like this…
EASTWOOD: So I — so I’ve got Mr. Obama sitting here. 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.
They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is trying, Oprah was crying.I was even crying. And then finally — and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country. 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 CHAIR: 23 million unemployed, you say? Um…do you know what year this is? This isn’t 2008, dude; it’s 2012. Divide that figure in half and you’re almost there. Believe me, my interest is strong enough. Why don’t you give the same lecture to Speaker John Boehner and tell him to pass my American Jobs Act post haste.
EASTWOOD: 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. 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?
THE CHAIR: Despite having to deal with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives who love saying “no” to everything I’ve proposed (I’ve even tried reverse psychology…didn’t work), here is a partial list of accomplishments: 1) I’ve overhauled the food safety system; 2) Advanced women’s rights in the work place; 3) Ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) in our military; 4) Ended defense of DOMA in court; 5) Passed the Hate Crimes Bill; 6) Appointed two pro-choice women to the Supreme Court; 7) Expanded access to medical care and provided subsidies for people who can’t afford it; 8) Expanded the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); 9) Fixed the pre-existing conditions injustice (and rescission’s) in health insurance; 10) Invested in clean energy; 11) Signed the Dodd-Frank bill, protecting borrowers against abuses in mortgage, credit card and other types of lending, establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Board (and when Republicans in Congress intentionally refused to confirm Richard Cordray as Director of that agency, I took the initiative to appoint him while the obstructionists were in recess. How’s that for chutzpah?); 12) Veterans have received more help from my administration than the previous one, as well as more help for first responders and workers whose health was damaged during the clean-up after the 9/11 attacks; 13) Gave the order to have Osama Bin Laden…um..dispatched — and we’ve eliminated several other key Al-Qaeda leaders before and after that mission; 14) Ended war operations in Iraq, according to schedule; 15) Begun the draw down of forces from Afghanistan (okay, when I took office, on the advice of the Pentagon I increased the troops by 30,000. But I had conditions: if it didn’t work by the deadline I set, then it was time to start pulling up the stakes, as it were)… And that’s just for starters. With a second term and a more cooperative Congress I fully intend to fulfill my remaining promises. Or ELSE.
As for Gitmo…seriously, do you think Mitt Romney would close it down? I fought the Pentagon on that issue…hell, Mitt won’t even put up the slightest fight. To paraphrase the old adage, “The Pentagon will say jump and Mitt will ask ‘how high'”? And I did not tell you to shut up. It’s the podium. I swear.
EASTWOOD: 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. 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.
THE CHAIR: Thank the Republicans in Congress — they made the decision for me to try terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in military court, despite the fact that several terrorists have been successfully tried and convicted in civilian court. And we’re talking about Afghanistan again? You think I started that war? Seriously? The guy who started the Iraq war started the Afghanistan war. I inherited BOTH wars after I took the Oath of Office in 2009. And check with the Russians first? Did you give George W. Bush that advice, “Check with the Russians first”? And what ‘advice’ would the Russians have given us — how to lose a war with the Taliban? Or were we supposed to ask for permission first? Dude, the barn door is closed and the cow has escaped.
EASTWOOD: But we did it, and it is something to be thought about, and I think that, when we get to maybe — I think you’ve mentioned something about having a target date for bringing everybody home. You gave that target date, and I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, “Why are you giving the date out now? Why don’t you just bring them home tomorrow morning?”
THE CHAIR: Romney said what? Mitt Romney? The guy who wants to go to war with Iran and Syria is asking me “Why don’t you just bring them (the troops) home tomorrow morning?”. That sounds like something Ron Paul would say.
EASTWOOD: And I thought — I thought, yeah — I am not going to shut up, it is my turn.
THE CHAIR: Stop putting words on my seat. I did not tell you to shut up. Check with the podium.
EASTWOOD: So anyway, we’re going to have — we’re going to have to have a little chat about that. 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.
THE CHAIR: It’s the podium, I tell ya. It’s probably had too much contact with angry Republicans and it’s cranky.
EASTWOOD: You’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy. You’re getting as bad as Biden.
THE CHAIR: Hey, you’re the one having a conversation with an empty chair.
EASTWOOD: Of course we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic party. Kind of a grin with a body behind it.
THE CHAIR: So Joe makes a gaffe now and then, at least he doesn’t go around having discourse with inanimate objects. Your man Mitt is severely gaffe-prone, yet I’m not calling him the ‘intellect’ of the Republican party. Oops, that might be an unintentional insult…So sorry… But I have to admit, “Kind of a grin with a body behind it” is rather clever. Can I borrow it? It sort of fits Mitt. Oh, I just made a little poem! By the way, you get extra points for saying ‘Democratic Party’ instead of ‘Democrat Party.’
EASTWOOD: 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. See, I never thought it was a good idea for attorneys to be the president, anyway. I think attorneys are so busy — you know they’re always taught to argue everything, and always weight everything — weigh both sides… They are always devil’s advocating this and bifurcating this and bifurcating that. You know all that stuff. But, I think it is maybe time — what do you think — for maybe a businessman. How about that? A stellar businessman. Quote, unquote, “a stellar businessman.”
THE CHAIR: You are aware that Mitt Romney holds a law degree from Harvard, right? As for ‘stellar’ businessmen, wasn’t my predecessor a businessman? Yeah, didn’t work out so well. I wouldn’t play up the businessman thing too much right now. Your man, Romney, is a little sensitive about the subject at the moment…you know, the shenanigans that went down at Bain Capital, shutting down businesses for profit, shipping work overseas. Ah, and then Mitt’s missing tax returns and sketchy investments in the Cayman Islands… Sure, let’s have a BUSINESSMAN take a crack at the economy again and REALLY sink it once and for all. (Extra points for using the word ‘bifurcate.’)
EASTWOOD: 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.
THE CHAIR: Look, for now, I’m President of the United States…I realize that you don’t enjoy being reminded of that. I get it. See, the Secret Service makes me ride that BIG jet, Air Force One. Believe me, if it were possible, I would love to have a hybrid-electric Air Force One, but alas, your Republican buddies in Congress are just so in love with Big Oil…so. You do realize that President Romney would have to ride around in that big gas guzzling jet, right? But I guess that’s okay ’cause he’s a rich guy and used to luxury, so we’d have to treat him accordingly. Not like me, a simple former community organizer. And what do you mean by “I can’t do that to myself either”? Oh, never mind.