By now everyone has heard about Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood's faux Q&A session with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday night. Truth be told, it was more of a Q session: The "Dirty Harry" actor asked an "invisible" President Obama questions about his plan to get the country back on track and proceeded to pretend that the president was talking back.
The bumbling exchange -- during which a disheveled Eastwood looked as if he'd just rolled out of a Haddad's trailer -- had political pundits dumbfounded the next morning. Was Eastwood's bit made in earnest, or was he subtly mocking the party he purports to support? MSNBC's Rachael Maddow called it, "the weirdest thing I've ever seen at a political convention in my entire life," and she might be right.
Nevertheless, taking the exchange at face value, here are five reasons why Clint Eastwood's furniture debate proved ineffective.
1. It Was Supposed to Be Romney's Night
Rumor has it a hologram of Ronald Reagan was supposed to give a speech at the convention that night. The hologram's creator, Tony Reynolds, ultimately decided against the idea because he didn't want a hologram of the GOP's beloved patron saint to overshadow nominee Mitt Romney -- which throughout the campaign hasn't been so hard to do. (Each of Romney's GOP rivals had been dubbed the "Not Romneys," based on general consensus that voters can't bring themselves to get genuinely excited about the man. Now it looks as if Eastwood has done what the holographic Reagan creators feared. This morning, everyone was talking about the closing night of the convention, but they weren't talking about Mitt Romney.
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2. Twitter Is Quicker Than He Is
It was during Eastwood's garbled exchange that "Invisible Obama" began trending on Twitter's sidebar. Within the hour, a Twitter account under the same name sent out its first tweet. As of this morning, @InvisibleObama has more than 41,000 followers and counting. Its most recent Tweet: "Hey Mitt, how about lending me some of those Cayman $ for a new Air Force One?"
3. Academy Voters Are Mostly Liberal
You have to hand it to Eastwood: He's had a storied career as an actor/director. Both commercially successful and critically adored, the Hollywood legend is one of only a handful of actors to make the leap into becoming an Oscar-winning director. In fact, he's been nominated for an Oscar 11 times and he's won five. His last win was in 2004 for "Million Dollar Baby," which nabbed him Best Director and Best Picture honors. After last night, it's hard not to wonder if those will be his last. (Sorry, cast of "Trouble with the Curve.)
4. The Argument Itself Simply Wasn't That Good
Antics aside, the substance behind Eastwood's argument was sorely lacking. While attacks on the president's jobs record are valid, Eastwood's bit about how he and Oprah are crying because 23 million people are out of work says nothing about how Romney will do a better job. The argument really fell apart, though, when he criticized Obama for supporting the Afghanistan war. "We didn't check with the Russians to see how they did there for 10 years," he said to thundering applause. It's a funny line, but seeing how we've had troops in the country since 2001, one wonders if it was a crack at Obama or the guy who actually put them there.
5. Satire Has a Long Memory
Early Friday, a Los Angeles artist named OlaBetiku posted an illustration on Facebook that summed up Eastwood's faux argument. The illustration, in the style of Shepard Fairey's much-parodied "Hope" poster from Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, featured a simple image of a chair instead of the president's face. Underneath the image, the word "Chair" was boldly emblazoned. The message was simple: Given the choice between Mitt Romney and an empty chair, a lot of folks would just assume vote for the chair.