August 31st, 2012

Eastwood’s empty chair

Barack Obama has often been called an empty suit, but last night Clint Eastwood visualized him as an empty chair.

A lot of people (including me) thought Eastwood would be giving a more conventional speech. But instead he came up with a zany improv that left a lot of people scratching their heads:

Sort of funny, sort of strange, if you ask me.

But not unfamiliar. Anyone who’s had any experience with Gestalt therapy would probably recognize the famous empty chair technique pioneered by Fritz Perls:

When the client expresses a conflict with another person, through this technique, the client is directed to talk to that another person who is imagined to be sitting in an empty chair beside or across the client. This helps the client to experience and understand the feeling more fully. Thus, it stimulates your thinking, highlighting your emotions and attitudes. For example, the therapist may say, “Imagine your father in this chair (about 3 feet away), see him vividly, and, now, talk to him about how you felt when he was unfaithful to your mother.”…The key is a long, detailed, emotional interaction–a conversation. You should shift back and forth between chairs as you also speak for the person-trait-object in the other chair. This “conversation” clarifies your feelings and reactions to the other person and may increase your understanding of the other person.

Obama doesn’t strike me as the sort of man who can take a joke—about himself. That’s why ridicule can be a most potent weapon.

32 Responses to “Eastwood’s empty chair”

  1. Curtis Says:

    It’s my belief that Clint has the same disdain for Obama as he did for the lawyers who picked at him and his business. I’m expecting the rascist meme any time soon.

  2. George Pal Says:

    I would have preferred Gestaltism: a breakdown of the parts and their relationship to the perception of the whole.

    “The whole is other than the sum of the [misrepresented] parts”. (The [misrepresented] is my editorial.)

    Time constraints probably made it necessary to go with Perl’s ’empty chair’ technique.

  3. T Says:

    “Obama doesn’t strike me as the sort of man who can take a joke—about himself. That’s why ridicule can be a most potent weapon,”

    and based upon Prof. Wm Jacobsen’s analysis over at Legal Insurrection, Clint eastwood is now living inside Obama’s head.

  4. Gringo Says:

    Obama doesn’t strike me as the sort of man who can take a joke—about himself.

    That is an understatement. From the Al Smith Roast in NYC , shortly before the 2008 election: “My greatest strength: my humility. My weakness- it’s possible I’m a little too awesome.”

    By contrast, Dubya could laugh at himself, and do so on a national stage. Obama and McCain at Al Smith roast in NYC Steve Bridges roasts Dubya

  5. LJ Says:

    Got home from work just in time to see Clint’s performance and loved it. Very subtle but effective way to reach the target audience with the key message – “if he’s not done the job, he has to go”.

    Should have expected the negative pile-on to his soliloquy, but was actually caught by surprise by it. Still, I believe that the MSM’s strategy to try and minimize the impact of this will actually backfire on them instead…Clint is very beloved in much of the country and regular folks seeing the clip will totally get the joke and wonder why the pundits are getting so bent out of shape about it. And they will then wonder how much else of what the pundit’s say is nonsense, as well.

    And this line will reverberate for a while: “We own this country”.

  6. n.n Says:

    Obama is an opportunist. His character is endowed with a shallow integrity. However, his followers perceive him as a mortal god, who will redistribute the product of other people’s labor and effect selective justice on their behalf. Neither he, nor his followers, are capable of coping with criticism of his mortal imperfections and the resistance of others to their vote for involuntary exploitation, respectively.

  7. kaba Says:

    Interesting isn’t it? Romney, Ryan, and surrogates appear to be getting repeated subtle digs on Obama’s competence, his experience, and his performance thus far. I suspect Obama, despite all of his bluff and bluster, has a rather fragile ego.

    Are they setting him up for a coup de grace at one of the debates?

  8. Sam L. Says:



    I do believe Clint left a mark on that chair. And the chair’s teleprompter.

  9. parker Says:

    I’m sure BHO has tasked Holder and Napolitano to investigate and harass Eastwood if at all possible.

  10. DonS Says:

    Well parker, Holder has finished his investigation of Bush’s torture, etc., with nothing to show for it, so he should have some resources freed up.

  11. submandave Says:

    If you go back and look at some of Bob Newhart’s old telephone conversation bits you can see the exact same dynamic and humor. In fact, Newhart tweeted a joke in response.

  12. LisaM Says:

    Clint Eastwood’s performance last night reminded me of the climactic scene in his movie Gran Torino. He confronted the bad guys and took the fire, which freed up the nice family to move forward.

  13. Mr. Frank Says:

    It’s the stuck pig that squeals. Obama’s minions really got stuck good.

  14. Donkeyhoti Says:

    You gotta love Clint. It’s like what I would do and say if I stood up to talk about the choices in this year’s election. He also talked to all Americans. We had all the scripted, and rehearsed speeches. He was probably still trying to figure out what he was going to say on the way out to the podium.

    And its got the media going nuts! It’s time to let Obama go.

  15. Baltimoron Says:

    I’ll probably spend the next two weeks looking for somewhere to use “I can’t tell him to do that to himself”
    Anyway, the reason this works so well isn’t just that Obama can’t take a joke, its that being above everyone else is an important part of his image as a politician; his brand, if you will.
    It was never part of Bill Clinton’s brand. He was never above anything (except Monica, ba-dump bing!). That’s why people could make fun of him all they wanted and it made no difference. Actually I think he got a screwy sort of pleasure from it.
    Obama is the guy who’s above everything. So once people start laughing at him, he’s no longer cool, no longer inspiring. The brand is ruined.

  16. Sam L. Says:

    Keep and eye on Instapundit–this is fun, and will continue for a while. Updates!

  17. Sam L. Says:

    And Bob Newhart tweets:

  18. reticent Says:

    LisaM nails it. Everyone today is asking, “Has Clint lost it?”. By making the controversy be about him, he makes this a must see video that all people have to check out for themselves, whether they are political or not, liberal or conservative.

    And as the video goes viral, one of the truly memorable lines from the RNC — “When someone’s not doing the job, we gotta let ’em go” — seeps into the national consciousness even though the MSM is doing its best to ignore, misconstrue or downplay all the messages coming out of the convention. This is brilliant!

  19. texexec Says:

    I have to laugh at the MSM folks who thought his “He can’t do that to himself.” was inappropriate. They ignore the fact that Romney didn’t make that joke…Clint did…AND…seem to have forgotten that Obama HIMSELF has given the finger to Hillary and others in his speeches.

    What a juvenile.

  20. Curtis Says:

    Correctomungo, reticent. And they will see that underneath the dottage is still a keen mind who knew exactly what he was doing.

    The estimable Paul Hinderaker of Powerline fame thinks Clint lowered the bar.

    Thank goodness. I hope he’s right because Americans admit no bar between their rulers, governors, mayors, presidents and magistrates. Our constitution enshrines that with Article 1, Section 9, clause 8 disallowing titles of nobility. All good Americans reject the idea of a ruling elite. We govern ourselves and when we are prohibited from making fun of ourselves, we’ve lost what is so uniquely American about America.

  21. Rachelle Says:

    I watched Clint’s presentation live and worried at first that he was losing it. But I caught on very quickly, and loved all of his performance. It is astonishing how much he managed to get into that talk. So far there has been little comment about his jab at Obama for flying everywhere in his 747 despite claiming to be an environmentalist.

    When it was done, Obama was effectively portrayed as incompetent, dishonest, hypocritical and petty.

    No other speaker accomplished so much.

  22. Rachelle Says:

    Juan Williams just complained on Fox News that Eastwood’s bit was a bit ‘degrading to the President.’

    God, I hope so!

  23. Sam L. Says:

    Much of what The One does is degrading to the Presidency. We’ve known that.

  24. Gringo Says:

    I have to laugh at the MSM folks who thought his “He can’t do that to himself.” was inappropriate.

    Not to mention the “shut up” that Clint had the chair say. I guffawed at them.

    The ∅bama campaign has been the meanest, nastiest, most mendacious campaign that I can remember. Perhaps Tricky was worse, against Helen Gahagan Douglas in his 1950 Senate campaign, but I doubt it.While ∅bama has tried at times to distance himself from his campaign’s nasty streak, it doesn’t work, as the nastiness is done in his name, in support of him.

    This was Clint Eastwood’s way of saying that a mean,nasty campaign reflects on ∅bama. The meaner and nastier and more mendacious the campaign that ∅bama runs, the more ∅bama shows himself to be mean, nasty, and mendacious.

    Granted, those of us who had studied ∅bama in depth knew well before the 2012 campaign that ∅bama was mean, nasty, and mendacious. But the more ∅bama campaigns that way, the more mainstream this view of him becomes.

    Clint Eastwood simply mirrored reality.

    Yes, Clint Eastwood’s speech was “degrading” to the President, but only to the extent that it accurately described the President. The POTUS IS mean, nasty , and mendacious.

    Who wrote Clint Eastwood’s speech? Or skit…

  25. rickl Says:

    I think the Empty Chair just might turn out to be Obama’s Killer Bunny moment.

    Basically, it wasn’t all that different from saying that the emperor has no clothes.

  26. Curtis Says:

    Don’t try and figure it out.

    The rain falls and makes the little
    power of fall and rise a riddle
    hiding power within power and purpose
    the rain falls and hides all in mist.

    It’s our mystery isn’t it, do it
    the lamb falls, the sacrifice blew it
    but left a bargain notwithstanding
    we’ve left this earth’s mystery burning.

  27. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Few have mentioned that this was something that an 81 year old mega-star didn’t have to do. Why would he bother? He doesn’t need the fame, nor the waves of hate he knew would be coming his way. I don’t know if he was asked or if he volunteered. Either way, he could have taken a pass. He didn’t. Speaks volumes.

  28. Don Carlos Says:

    Greatness and great moments have an odd way of coming up at critical junctures in American life.

  29. parker Says:

    “Few have mentioned that this was something that an 81 year old mega-star didn’t have to do. Why would he bother? He doesn’t need the fame, nor the waves of hate he knew would be coming his way. I don’t know if he was asked or if he volunteered. Either way, he could have taken a pass. He didn’t. Speaks volumes.”

    As LisaM notes, Clint was in his Grand Torino role ‘taking the bullet’ so as to cast doubts about the shooters, yet leaving others ‘clean’. I’m sure he enjoyed the role. I see a noble peace prize coming his way. 😉

  30. Wm Lawrence Says:

    Nobel Peace Prize! Not bloody likely. Clint has actually accomplished things in his life. The peace prize is reserved for incompetent anti-American poseurs such as our current CIC.

  31. Baltimoron Says:


    That’s something that got me thinking too. But I think the question might actually answer itself. He’s an 81 year old mega star, therefore he can do or say whatever he wants. Probably got sick and tired of listening to smug Hollywood liberals and one day he up and said hell with it.

  32. uncleFred Says:

    Pay back is a B*tch. The spot that Clint did for the Superbowl was spun by the left to appear an endorsement of the administration’s handing of the auto bail out. Clint maintained that, from his perspective, it was not political. The majority of the country felt that either Clint was ducking or was taken advantage of. He has now cleared that up.

    It worked and it worked very well.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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