Monday, September 3, 2012

The Empty Chair

So, most of you have heard about the odd performance piece Clint Eastwood put on at the Republican National Convention, where he cross examined an imaginary President Obama signified by an empty chair. I like Clint, even if I don't agree with his politics and, as Bill Maher pointed out the other night, he went up there with no prompter and a chair and he got good responses from the audience, so you gotta give him credit for stepping out there. But it wasn't till I was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this weekend that I realized the significance of Eastwood's conversation with the empty chair. A significance that is obviously lost on the Republicans themselves.

As Jon Stewart put it, "Eastwood finally revealed the cognitive dissonance that is the beating heart and soul and fiction of [the Republican] party.   . . . I could never wrap my head around why the world and the President, that the 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." This theory is startlingly true. And it's been true since the campaign began. No, let's be honest, it's been true since January 20th, 2009. The GOP has based the majority of its attacks, not on the actual policies President Obama has championed or put into place, but instead, they have continually referred to a mythical, alternate reality version of Obama. Always exaggerating anything he said or did, and shockingly, often telling outright lies!

I can't even count the number of 'scandals' pushed, and often generated from thin air by Fox News and other GOP leaning sources that were completely untrue. And I mean proven false by objective investigation. But Republicans, and especially Fox News, know one very important thing about Americans and the media. They know that a salacious lie told today will be remembered, even if it's completely debunked tomorrow. Get your version out there first and proclaim it loudly and repeatedly. Then even if irrefutable proof arises later, you simply let it go without comment and your viewers and supporters will never even notice. Any proof offered later will be considered liberal propaganda. It's simple, and it works.

Look, I have a number of issues with Obama and his policies. I'm ticked off that the Gitmo gulag is still in operation. I'm ticked that we have made it OK to execute Americans via drone with little oversight. I'm ticked that we are still expected to be in Afghanistan for years to come, when we really aren't doing any lasting good and really don't have any control over the stability of the Karzai government. I'm pissed that the Bush tax cuts are still in place and continuing to feed the deficit. That's just what comes immediately to mind. Though even some of those items bear the fingerprints of the GOP. My point is that I can understand reasoned disagreement with the policies of this President. What I cannot understand is how much time is spent by Conservatives ranting and raving about policies Obama never proposed or on intentional misinterpretations of policies that actually were implemented. If we can't even agree on the basic facts, then how can we ever agree on anything else?

As an American, you must decide this November who you will support for President. I'm not asking that you blindly vote to reelect Barack Obama. But I do ask that you base your voting decision on facts. Not sound bites. Not some off the cuff remarks by Mike Huckabee or Sean Hannity. Not some unconfirmed headline you read on the Drudge Report. Not a Crossroads GPS funded attack ad. Base it on facts, that is all I ask. Wanna know the details on past and current fiscal policies and how they affect the deficit now and in the future? Actually go to the official sites and find the info! Don't pull it from! Visit the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is the non-partisan organization that is relied on by both parties for 'scoring' legislation. You want to hear some level-headed analysis of a Supreme Court ruling? Don't wait for Nancy Grace to enlighten you, go to the SCOTUS Blog, where experienced law scholars parse through the dense rulings and discuss the repercussions without adding partisan spin. Hear about a scandal that sounds shocking? Then investigate it through non partisan sources, or at least across a wide swath of sources, to see if maybe the reason it's so shocking is because it's made up! Vote for who you think is best for America, going forward. Just make sure you're basing your decision on factual information and not single sourced from a partisan pundit with an axe to grind.


  1. Well put.
    Actually, the day after Clint's weird performance, I meant to email you to ask if you were going to write about it. The GOP, I think, knows very well that Clint did them no favors. It was almost diabolical -- what if someone from the left put him up to it to bring a stink on the convention? Except the left doesn't seem to work that way. But, weird!

  2. I think the empty chair was to symbolize the empty vessel that so many voters projected their own hopes and dreams into last election. But that's just my opinion, guess you will have to ask Clint for the authoritative answer. It's amazing that such a gentle and innocuous performance could generate such hateful reactions about Eastwood ranging from "a few too many drinks", to he's just "getting old and senile". Perhaps it was just too uncomfortably close to the truth for some? Just as I am uncomfortable agreeing with anything that comes out of Bill Maher's mouth, but he's right for once. It takes balls, creativity and skill to pull that off, and hats off to Clint Eastwood for bringing something original and interesting to the party for a change.

  3. Great post. We seem to be in a post-fact America. Some studies have found that people who cling to a belief can cling to it more strongly the more they are countered with facts. The mentality behind it is: Wow, you you trying really hard to convince me I'm wrong. I must be right. Increasingly, people are looking for "news" that reaffirms their existing beliefs.

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