I know what I should write about today. I know I should be giving my take on the fairly impressive speech that Governor Mitt Romney made last night at the Republican National Convention. A speech that was effective in helping voters to get to know him, while still not revealing too much about what he would actually do as President. I know I should talk about how he, finally, tried to be open about his faith and about what makes him tick as a person. I know I should commend him for talking about real emotions and, for the first time, coming off like a human being rather than a stuffy buttoned-up man. I know I should commend him, again, for not following the lead of others this week in that he decided to tell the truth and be honest about his perspectives. Even if I don’t agree with the direction he wants to take this country, I still believe it was a very effective speech and I congratulate him for it. But I can’t. I just can’t spend any more time on Romney, because I need to talk about Clint Eastwood.
I’ll admit that I was wrong. I thought the Mike Huckabee/Chuck Norris marriage (sorry civil partnership?) would never be surpassed as the strangest politician/celebrity match. I really did. But, last night, Clint Eastwood proved I have much still to learn. For months, the RNC has been teasing a celebrity guest appearance on the final night of the convention. And, when Clint made his way up to the stage, I’ll admit to being excited. This is a guy, after all, who has brought us some of the greatest films ever and oozes talent from every pore. (Yeah, I said that.) What would he do, I wondered? And then, after much fanfare, and a tremendous ovation, he talked to an empty chair.
Now, I get what he was trying to do. His conversation with the imaginary President Obama was designed to, in a more lighthearted way, showcase the differences between Romney and Obama. It was designed to make Obama look silly and like less of a leader. And it was brilliant. Really, if you haven’t seen it, you need to watch. It was funny, weird, entertaining, bizarre, engaging and downright strange. He did what he always does in his movies – he stole the scene. However, this isn’t a movie and therein lies the problem. He was so good that it’s what people like me (and real writers too) are talking about today. They aren’t talking about the Romney speech or about the clear enthusiasm in the convention for this ticket. They are talking about an 82-year-old actor spending 10 minutes talking to an empty chair. Was it amusing? Sure. But was it the right thing to do right before the nominee – a man who struggles to be engaging and connect – delivered his huge speech? Not in a million years.
And the worst part for the RNC? Now everyone is going to be tuning in next week to see what the Democrats come up with for a response? I’ve heard Clooney might talk to an empty suit named Mitt? Maybe Oprah talking to an empty chair. Who knows, but you can bet they’ll do something and you can bet we’ll all be watching. One difference, however. Obama can hold his own against a Hollywood star trying to steal the scene. Romney, well he proved he can’t and that’s a shame. Because the speech he delivered really deserves more than being regulated to the second paragraph – he deserved better than being upstaged by an empty chair.