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What Do the Chairs Think About Clint Eastwood's Speech?

There’s been a lot of discussion and analysis of Eastwood's rambling, ad-libbed speech—and rightly so—but I think everyone is unfairly ignoring a group of voters who were clearly heavily invested in the speech, and I don’t think that’s right. So I...

by Harry Cheadle
Aug 31 2012, 7:36pm

As you all probably know, Clint Eastwood, famous Hollywood movie guy and former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, gave a rambling, confused speech at the Republican National Convention last night. Even Romney’s team was like, “Yeah guys, we don’t know either. He was sort of doing his own thing.” The conceit Eastwood used for the speech was sort of like a vaudeville act, which he’s old enough to remember: He pretended that the empty chair he was standing next to was Obama. For 11 long minutes, Eastwood rambled and occasionally stumbled over his words, touching on topics that were kinda sorta semi-connected, occasionally responding to the chair’s interruptions by saying, “I won’t shut up!” or “What do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that to himself!” The overall effect was like watching your grandpa have a little more scotch than usual and start talking about what he really thinks about things—you’re a little horrified, but you’re also too curious about what he’ll say next to interrupt him.

There’s been a lot of discussion and analysis of the speech—and rightly so—but I think everyone is unfairly ignoring a group of voters who were clearly heavily invested in the speech, and I don’t think that’s right. So I walked around the office and chatted to some of the chairs.

VICE: So what did you think of Eastwood’s speech?
Nice Swivel Chair: I’ve got one word for you: finally! Finally the Republicans pay attention to us chairs. I know there’s a stereotype that we all lean left, that we’re all hippies or whatever, but that’s simply not true. Glad to see they incorporated us into the convention.

Are you a Republican?
I don’t really identify with either party, but I definitely don’t like the way Obama has handled the deficit. And he hasn’t really addressed the obesity crisis in America, which of course is a huge issue for me as well as the chair community at large.

I can imagine it is.
I personally know several chairs who have broken from “overburdening,” as we call it. Needless to say, if Romney had picked Chris Christie as his running mate, he would have pretty much lost the entire chair vote. I definitely think that was a factor in his decision.

Did you watch Eastwood’s speech last night?
Swivel Chair That Always Tilts Forward Because It’s a Little Broken: I read about it on Twitter. It totally blew up on social networks, especially among the chairs I know.

What kinds of things were being said?
Well, as you can imagine, everyone was like, “Whoa, talk about a surprise guest!” But Eastwood barely let the chair talk. I guarantee you that chair had more interesting stuff to say than Clint. Would have said it better too. But that chair—I don’t know him personally, I don’t want to badmouth him—just sat there and didn’t get a word in edgewise.

What would you have done if you had been up on that stage?
I hope I would have had the guts to take the podium and go, like, “Wake up, chairs! These asshole conservatives just want to throw us all in the dump and go back to an era where people sit on rocks! Vote Gary Johnson!”

You’re a libertarian?
Yeah man. End the drug war. Bring our troops home today. But of course that’s why they’d never let me up on a stage like that.

So, Clint Eastwood…
Director’s Chair 1: Oh, man, can we not talk about this? You’re like the third reporter to ask me something about that today.

Really? Sorry.
Director’s Chair 1: It’s OK. I just want to remember Eastwood for all the great movies he made, you know? I don’t want to think of him as this, like, shrill ideologue or whatever.
Director’s Chair 2: I hate it when actors talk politics. Or any artists, really.

You think they shouldn’t express their beliefs?
Director’s Chair 2: It’s like my buddy here said. Remember Unforgiven? That’s an amazing film. Maybe one of the best Westerns ever.
Director’s Chair 3: Dude, The Searchers
Director’s Chair 2: I am not having this discussion again. We all know how you feel about The Searchers. Anyway, now if I rewatch Unforgiven, in the back of my mind I’m wondering, Is this influenced by right-wing beliefs? Is this a political statement? That shouldn’t enter my head. I don’t want to come to a film with a bunch of preconceptions based on who the director was and who he voted for. Like, do you know what P.T. Anderson’s political views are?

Um, no.
Director’s Chair 2: Exactly. And you don’t care. It doesn’t matter. You don’t want to know. You don’t want to think of his movies as political statements.

So you’re pretty excited for The Master?
Director’s Chair 1: Dude, you have no idea.

What did you guys think about Eastwood’s speech?
Low Wooden Chair 1: I thought it was weird and a mess. Why was he talking about closing Gitmo and pulling out of Afghanistan tomorrow? What does that have to do with anything? Romney isn’t in favor of those policies.
Low Wooden Chair 2: Wait, why can’t he talk about that stuff? Those are his opinions, he can say them. I bet a bunch of Republicans agree with him, too. They brought him on to say whatever he wanted.
Low Wooden Chair 1: Yeah, they fucked up though. He straight up embarrassed Romney.
Low Wooden Chair 2: So what, everyone has got to stay on-message all the time? Just line up like willing minions and do this choreographed routine?
Low Wooden Chair 1: Well, that’s what conventions are about. It’s not time to have a free-for-all. I just think Romney’s people should have planned it better. That’s not a good thing for them, that they can’t get all the speakers under control.

Are you guys dating?
Low Wooden Chair 2: Yeah.
Low Wooden Chair 1:  No.

Can I talk to you about Clint Eastwood’s speech?
Toilet: I have nothing to say about him or the Republicans. Politics is bullshit.

All politics? Or just the GOP?
All of it. Chairs have been voting Democrat for how long? And we haven’t gotten shit for it. Ever hear of the Reupholstery Stimulus Act? No, you haven’t, ‘cause it got killed in committee. Fuck politicians.

You didn’t watch the convention?
No. And I’m glad I didn’t. It’s nothing but pandering. You’re putting a chair onstage? Great, guys, but what I want to see is a chair in office.

@HCheadle

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