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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The "Empty Chair" Deluge

An interesting thing happened, on the way out of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, which, after three interminable days, mercifully ended two days ago.

These national political conventions, held every four years by the two major parties, have long since cast off what must have been their original purposes, having to do with choosing candidates, and they have instead become merely gigantic, expensive galas for the party faithful, with the public invited to attend -- from a distance. And this particular Repub gathering had largely been a harmful entertainment for the evil, dark forces among the American body politic, until--

This past Thursday one man, age 82 and therefore one year older than even me, and immeasurably renowned, revered, prosperous, and successful in every way, soft-stepped his way up on that Tampa podium and, with the aid of a single, simple prop, a chair that he didn't even sit in, he put on a performance that took things out into the entertainment area so widely and deeply that this convention ever afterward figures to carry his name and none other, especially not that of the man who just moments before had been officially confirmed as the Repubs' Presidential candidate, M. Romney.

Without revealing or even hinting at his or her identity, the Repubs had for some time advertised that at or near the end of their convention, they would be graced by the presence of a so-called "mystery speaker." There had been a lot of conjecture as to that person's identity, and near the end the verdict had just about settled on being not an actual person but a hologram instead, of the late Bonzo, also known as R. Reagan -- the Repub President most revered by the thuggish element that has come to dominate that party.

When it was revealed that this speaker would be Clint Eastwood, at first I was a little disturbed. I have a lot of respect for him, no matter what he does and says. This is because of the consistently high caliber of nearly everything he has done in the movie field, both in the early films in which he "merely" acted, and in the later ones that he produced and directed and in which he also quite often acted.

As crusty and "potty-mouthed" as he often is, and given his grim aspect and his gravely voice, as in yards where a lot of tear- and blood-spattered rocks have been broken, and given even more that by now he's filthy rich, it was no surprise that Eastwood had opted to support the Republicans, even though he had done Obama a good turn just a year ago by having praised the government bailout of the U.S. auto industry, in a Chrysler ad aired during a football game. Also there have been the several great roles that he has given his apparently close friend, the equally renowned rainbow (or "black") actor, Morgan Freeman. So I thought that behind all that, whatever Eastwood did that night, he would give Romney and crew a big boost. But it turned out that I needn't have worried.

By now everybody knows what happened. Taking up almost 15 minutes instead of the three that he had been allotted and thus squeezing the Repubs badly short of their precious national TV time, of which they only had one hour left in this windup of things, Eastwood delivered a rambling, disoriented upbraiding liberally flecked with inaccuracies that he directed toward an imaginary B. Obama, while trying to suggest that Obama was sitting in the empty chair and responding to those charges in vicious, obscene terms, to which even the President's worst enemies will admit never having seen this always suave, gracious man resorting -- eternal finesse that is the thing about him that probably enrages the Repubs most of all, because in their thinking "everybody knows how rude and crude those nigras are."

--And that makes even more elegant and powerful the following graphic, which I lifted from Rook's Rant, the site of a longtime internet friend:

This graphic is one of the products of the outpouring of reactions that immediately followed Eastwood's turn on the Republican stage and that in its size and scope teamed with Eastwood's stint in completely eclipsing whatever the Republicans might have thought they had accomplished during their three days outside the famous strip joints of Tampa, Florida.

Among many other things, something called a "meme" on whatever it is called, on either Facebook or Twitter -- obviously I am not up on any of that kind of stuff -- immediately sprang up, called "Eastwooding" or some such, and many thousands of people outdid themselves sending in creative representations of empty chairs. These were typified by people having picked up their digital cameras and coaxed or otherwise waited for their dogs to take up what could be seen as being inquiring positions in front of empty seats in kitchens or even bathrooms.

Obama himself quickly joined in the fun by posting a tweet showing a shot of him from the back sitting next to a second but empty chair, with the caption, "This seat is taken."

Meanwhile what Eastwood had done, and the scene thereof, had been so favorable for satire as well as extensive analysis that there were hordes of textual takes that were also posted everywhere on the internet, most often in the form of those same "tweets." A statement that I thought did an especially good job of summing up the significance of what had just happened was at first wrongly attributed to Andrew Sullivan of "The Dish," before the credit was shifted to someone named Jamelle Boule. The statement, as nearly as I can remember, was to the effect that Eastwood did a great job of showing what the Repub convention was all about, namely "an angry old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama."

That tied in with something that I had also thought on hearing that Eastwood was to do a turn for the Repubs. I had wondered if his image of a crusty old man was really something that they wanted to project. Or had they completely thrown overboard any idea of wanting to appeal to youth and their always assumed forward thinking into the future, in favor of definitely regressing to the bad, old ways of the past? I had thought that in this country youth had not yet ceased being everything.

Or maybe the thing they liked about Eastwood that they would give him that all-important slot in the last moments of their Big Event was his long ago movie role as Dirty Harry, the reprobate cop who was so fond of blowing away suspects with his huge, heavy Magnum .45, and to that end they loved his famous line, delivered near the opening of one of those films, in which Harry tells some (who else?) rainbow robbers, "Go ahead. Make my day."

But if they had known anything about Eastwood and his canon, they would have known that another of his lines that is far more deserving of being universally known was one that I believe he had the same character directing toward a corrupt police official who is Calahan's bitter adversary throughout a film called "Magnum Force." That picture ends with the official trapped in a car that is quickly going under in the deep waters of a big city harbor, while Eastwood's character rings a change on a recurring theme in the film. He says, "A man should always know his limitations."

This is an admonition that M. Romney -- and the Ryan guy -- would have done well to have left that convention Thursday night with it freshly tattooed on some substantial area of their anatomies, preferably the part they use to cushion their behinds while sitting in empty chairs.


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