Saturday, September 1, 2012

Romney Advisers on the Hotseat Over Chair Debacle


Other Posts on this Topic:
Clint Eastwood Talks to an Empty Chair in Tampa
Romney Advisers on Hotseat Over Chair Debacle
Media Turn Clint Eastwood Every Which Way but Loose
Clint Eastwood Blames Mitt for Stupid Chair Skit

He spoke from the heart with a classic improv sketch, which everyone at the convention loved.
~ Romney top adviser Stuart Stevens

So the whole thing where he's addressing "Mr. President," the empty chair sitting next to him? Him interviewing the empty chair as if in the empty chair was President Obama, and then he was pretending that the invisible president in the chair yelled at Mr. Eastwood that he should go "eff himself" and to "shut up." That was the big joke of the riff.
So that's what the Romney campaign chose to broadcast to 25 million people about Mitt Romney's campaign for the presidency.
What they did last night is a political disaster. This is unheard of.
~ Rachel Maddow on MSNBC

From the New York Times
Behind the scenes, Mr. Eastwood’s convention cameo was cleared by Mr. Romney’s top message mavens, Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, who drew up talking points that Mr. Eastwood included, in his own way. They gave him a time limit and flashed a blinking red light that told him his time was up. He ignored both. The actor’s decision to use a chair as a prop was last-minute, and his own. “The prop person probably thought he was going to sit in it,” a baffled senior aide said on Thursday night.
. . . It also startled and unsettled Mr. Romney’s top advisers and prompted a blame game among them. “Not me,” an exasperated-looking senior adviser said when asked who was responsible for Mr. Eastwood’s speech. In interviews, aides called the speech “strange” and “weird.” One described it as “theater of the absurd.”

Mashable: Interview with Invisible Obama
Now that you have gained more than 50,000 followers, what do you plan to do with the account?
I can’t just disappear (well, any more than I already have), so I’m going to keep on observing without being observed. . . .

What happens when other people sit in the chair? Do they become invisible?
When other people sit in the chair they usually get freaked out by feeling like they are sitting on someone else’s lap (that they can’t see). The reactions are priceless. My “and what do YOU want for Christmas” jokes don’t go over too well at that point. Then I just bring up “Invisible Touch” on my Spotify, and say over it, “you just got @invisibleobama’d!”

If you were to become chairman of anything, what would it be?
Let me be clear. I don’t have time for that. I’m an invisible President. Plus, I’m still running Clint Eastwood’s questions through Google Translate. But I guess if I could be the Chairman of anything, it would be Ikea. It would be great to have a full line of invïsibleöbäma furniture. Plus, I bet I’d get unlimited swedish meatballs and access to the ball pit after hours (because during regular hours it would be way too creepy).


Philadelphia Inquirer: Eastwood Unseats Romney
In this era of instant essays, Michael Moore of the Daily Beast called it "a performance that seemed to have been written by Timothy Leary and performed by Cheech and Chong," and CNN's Howard Kurtz and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow called it the most bizarre thing they'd ever seen.

Marc Eliot, author of American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood, says the speech showed that the actor is "not that comfortable being spontaneous, being unscripted. As a producer/director, he's a control freak, and last night he did not show control." Eliot says it's "a very bad thing for a party looking to connect with younger voters," awkward for TV, since Eastwood, scripted for 3 to 4 minutes, overstayed, pushing Mitt Romney's acceptance speech over the far edge of prime time.

Ah, but . . . that chair. It ceased to be a chair, becoming instead . . . a meme, a word, phrase, image, or idea rocketed throughout the Web, ubiquitous, trenchant. . . . Andrew Beaujon of the Poynter Institute noted that the empty chair was already a multimedia meme. CNN's Piers Morgan and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and Thomas Roberts all have interviewed vacant furniture lately. Morgan called his (standing in for beleaguered Senate candidate Todd Akin) "a gutless little twerp." The Smithsonian Institution, with hilarious seriousness, traced the tradition of politicians' interrogating empty chairs back to "at least 1924."


Transcript of The Daily Show with John Stewart
Yes!!! Amidst the tired rhetoric and empty platitudes and overwrought attacks . . . A Fistful of Awesome emerged in the night where it spent twelve minutes on the most important night of Mitt Romney's life yelling at a chair! Yes!
(points upward and mouths "thank you Jesus")
And oh, how the Outlaw Josie Wailed.
(plays clip of Eastwood rambling)
Are you not entertained? This is the most joy I've gotten from an old man since Dick Cheney non-fatally shot one in the face. I mean . . . more! Give me more!
(plays clip of Eastwood arguing with chair)
'I'm here to endorse Mitt Romney in this crucial hour. You will not silence me, Invisible Barack Obama.' . . .

Not that Romney didn't get a chance. I think he talked, too.
Romney: We Americans have always felt a special kinship with the future.
Yes, yes, we Americans, uniquely among Earth's people move forward in time.
Look - I don't care how many Marcos Rubio you put in between Clint Eastwood and Mitt Romney, Romney ain't outshining this little playlet I like to call "The Old Man and the Seat."


And here's why it hurts - it hurt these Republicans bad because this convention like all conventions is a scripted and focused group fantasy. And the display of Eastwood's Gran Torino id was the very thing the Republicans had constructed the entire week to suppress.
This convention was the vision of a perfect America that used to exist until Barack Obama ruined it. And so what if that American had never actually existed.
(plays clip of Romney making glowing statements about American life)
Gee Whiz, Pops, that sounds awesome!
Yeah, that was the uncomplicated American you remember. I think in the early sixties there were some churches in Alabama that might disagree with your sports-team versus place-of-worship anecdote.

But the point is this: what this convention attempted to do is say that we could all live again in this nostalgic paradise if it weren't for this one f***in' guy.
(plays clips of Republicans bashing Obama) Hey, his wife is nice though. In four years one man, Barack Obama, has broken the greatest nation God has ever given us on this earth. The message of this convention is that apparently up until November of 2008 Americans lived in a utopian ideal ...
(shows clip of Andy Griffith and Opie going fishing)
... born of our own individual gumption and hard work. Sadly now, not four years later, it's a blighted socialist hell-scape where jackbooted thugs lock you up for thinking about Christmas.

And here is the most incredible part of the entire fiction: while convincing us that Barack Obama is destroying our country's future, the Republicans have also invented a past where they were trying to help him succeed.
Mitt: I wish President Obama would have succeeded because I want America to succeed. Holy effin' sh**!!! You . . . wanted . . . Obama . . . to succeed?

We may not remember that America was never really Mayberry, but we sure as sh** can remember back to 2009
(plays apocalypic clip from Sean Hannity).
Well, he did give him 100 days before queuing up the song from "The Omen."
. . . I can't believe he hasn't fixed in 8 days what our guy did in 8 years.

. . . Here's where Clint Eastwood has done a huge favor to us all. The Republican Party's irrationality that they've worked so hard at the convention trying to conceal was unleashed in a 12-minute improvised avant garde performance of one angry man.
Eastwood finally revealed the cognitive dissonance that is the beating heart and soul and fiction of this party. They're so far gone, they're hammerin' Obama for things Bush did and Romney is.
(plays clip of Eastwood talking to chair about Afghanistan)
Oh Snap! You really gave it to the guy who didn't get us into that war!
(plays clip of Eastwood saying "It's not good for guys who are attorneys to be president anyway")
Yeah - take that Harvard lawyer, Barack Obama! You'll never be the man Harvard lawyer Mitt Romney is.

So we owe Clint Eastwood a debt of thanks. Not only because it was a truly hilarious 12 minutes of improvised awesome in a week of scripted blah. But because it advanced out understanding. This President has issues and there are very legitimate debates to be had about his policies and actions and successes and/or failures as President. I mean, tune in next week.
But I could never wrap my head around why the world and the President that Republicans describe bears so little resemblance to the world and the President that I experience. And now I know why.

There is a President Obama that only Republicans can see.
And . . . while the President the rest of us see has issues, apparently this President, invisible to many, is bent on our wholesale destruction. But look - invisible Obama is great for my business. I'm still sad that Trump's not running. But if you really want to make this election about this guy (shows pic of chair) let me see if I can paraphrase . . .
'Go ahead, make my day'

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