August 31st, 2012
05:43 PM ET

Comments: Clint Eastwood's 'empty chair' speech roasts Hollywood politics

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. Here, you'll see highlights from some of today's conversation.

It seems like everyone has been talking about Clint Eastwood's surprise speech at the Republican National Convention, during which he addressed an "invisible Barack Obama" sitting in an empty chair. The speech got an interesting reaction and even spawned its own meme, termed "eastwooding." Readers have mixed emotions about the speech, and about Hollywood politics. But for some, Eastwood's words were a refreshing inversion of what they see as Tinseltown's typical perspectives.

Eastwood, the empty chair and the speech everyone's talking about

Two iReporters expressed support for Eastwood. Rick Huffman of St. Joseph, Michigan, shared a video of his own not-so-empty chair with a gun holster at its side and a cowboy hat on top. When asked about the impact of the speech, he gave a simple answer.

"The chair? Not much," he wrote. "His presence? Speaks volumes to the people."

Commenter gapperguy responded to him, "It is only coming under fire by liberals. The Republican base loved it."

Mark Ivy of Farmersburg, Indiana, said Eastwood was "bringing down the house," and he received many supportive comments as well.

k3vsDad: "This is a new side to a man known for his dramatic roles. His timing and comedic take was dead on. Eastwood  had the conventioneers eating out of his hand as he pointed out elected  officials work for the people and the people are the bosses. Eastwood  got loud cheers and applause when remarking it was time to let Obama go  because he wasn't doing the job."

Ivy did get this response from Bellydancer: "I will agree with part of your statement – he brought it down alright – to a new low." Many of our readers on CNN.com were not quite enthralled by the speech. The following person posted the most popular comment of the day, and started a long thread of replies.

JohnRJohnson: "I feel so badly for Clint Eastwood. His awkward, meandering series of tasteless insults aimed at the president of the United States will ultimately be viewed as a low point in his great film career. His performance tonight typifies the dreadful behavior of the right wing over the last four years. I wonder what young kids thought as they watched this American icon mocking the president in front of a national audience. The lack of respect for the office, if not the man, was juvenile, classless and embarrassing for the whole country. "

diannecf: Let's be fair. Has anyone seen the roast by journalists for Bush presided over by Stephen Colbert? Bush's chair was occupied by Bush, and boy did he squirm. Tasteless is what comedy is all about. Ruining the sacred truths, celebrating anarchy. What we should be focusing on today is Romney's speech: a call to another war and a curse brought down on unions and what they do for the workers, which the Republicans want to exploit with no strings attached. They want to destroy the social safety net so that going into the military looks like salvation and they can fight their profitable wars. They are fascists.

JohnRJohnson: "I recall the 'roast' held for the candidates by the National Press Club back in 2008. Obama and McCain got to roast each other. It was hilarious and I remember McCain delivering the funniest barbs. That was all in good fun. We couldn't have that sort of event today because the right wing of the Republican Party wouldn't permit its presidential candidate to even appear like he was having a good time with President Obama. It would actually cost Romney votes."

Several readers said Eastwood made some headway for the GOP.

American2454: "Eastwood was BRILLIANT. Just because you don't have the IQ to appreciate his intelligent, dry, incisive humor doesn't mean he didn't succeed in skewering the failed pretend 'president'. Hey, you weren't watching with Joe Biden, were you?"

One person was longing for John Wayne.

CDNpride: "John Wayne was asked what he thought about it when Kennedy was elected. He replied, He's not the man I voted for, but he is my president and I hope he does a good job. Republicans went from this to Clint Eastwood doing his best to rip the president apart. They went from hoping the president did a good job to trying to stop every good move he would make that would help America. They don't hope he does a good job. They want him to fail even if that means America's failure."

Too much Hollywood politicking?

Richard Erdreich: "It is a shame that actors try to go too far with their political support. Eastwood doesn't understand enough about economics to know what works. He's smart enough to know the country is in bad shape, but doesn't understand the party he's speaking for has done most of the damage! Maybe if Clint was more educated instead of someone who just pretends to be someone he isn't, he'd be a Democrat. Giddy-up!"

ImIrish: "Well, I know what you mean about actors going too far with their political support. I no longer watch anything with George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, etc. The list keeps getting longer. In short, I just don't go to movies anymore, because I'm not going to support these uneducated clowns. Most in Hollywood are lucky if they have a high school diploma, and it shows, embarrassingly so!"

This commenter pointed out that Democrats frequently skewered former President George W. Bush.

maplemale: "The hypocrisy here amazes me. How many times was our prior president disrespected, made fun of and called a bumbling idiot by the left? I'm sitting here laughing at all of you as you cry like little bullies who are finally getting what you've been dishing out for the eight years prior and from your own holy temple of ignorance – The Hollywood Machine none the less. This is fantastic, comical and poetic all at once. Going to go watch some Clint Eastwood, Jon Voight and Kelsey Grammer movies now. Later ..."

But this reader said the RNC lost some momentum that final night.

pinetree51: "I think the GOP was on a roll with Condi and Ryan. Young, dynamic, image of looking forward. I don't agree with them, but their presentation was spot on. Then comes an 80+ Clint who was bizarre and strange. A symbol of a once great actor now acting weird. Uh oh. I know that someone in the RNC wanted some of the old Norman Rockwell USA on stage, but, guys, it is 2012. The 1950s ain't coming back. Then Mitt. Lots of warm and fuzzy, virtually no specifics about just HOW he is going to give everyone a tax break AND increase military  spending and STILL cut spending. Uh oh. My analysis is that they were on a roll, and then stumbled the last, critical night."

Did the GOP make the points that were needed?

labman57: "Last night, Condi Rice called for extended engagements in Afghanistan and proposed new excursions in several other Middle Eastern nations, and the crowd went wild. Tonight, Clint attacked Obama for our decision to invade Afghanistan - perhaps oblivious to the fact that the Bush/Cheney administration made that call - and criticized the Obama administration for not bringing the troops home 'tomorrow,' and the crowd went wild. It appears that it matters not what the speakers actually say during the RNC - even if they make statements that are diametrically opposed to the comments made by other speakers - if they say it with conviction and pizzazz, the crowd will go wild. And then there's the matter of Eastwood's performance as Elwood P. Dowd, with Barack as Harvey the imaginary rabbit, complete with imaginary profanity. The crowd went wild, but the rest of the nation went 'HUH?' "

Several made clever one-liners.

Serdukar: "Eastwood debated an empty chair ... and he lost."

Serdukar: "After the speech Eastwood continued the debate behind scenes with dishwasher, refrigerator and a Bunn coffee machine ..."

Zorf: "Clint Eastwood is still backstage arguing with a vending machine."

nothingnew1: "Once the debates start, Obama is going to make it look like he's the one debating an empty chair."

GoodFuture: "I wish I hadn't seen or heard Clint do this. It's not the way I want to remember him, but sadly will never forget this ridiculous episode."

And in some cases, Eastwood seemed to reach across party lines.

Leeford68: "I am supporting Obama but I found Clint's speech entertaining and refreshing. Clint has something most GOP doesn't have: class."

Of course, some of the more critical sentiments seemed to invite a particular question.

Why did GOP invite Clint Eastwood?

Some of the readers weren't so sure.

D:  "Clint Eastwood demonstrated why he is a great film actor and director, rather than an onstage performer very clearly last evening. His speech at the GOP convention was unconventional, rambling and almost pathetic for a man of his stature. In a film you can edit and cut and paste to end up with a finely honed piece of work. Onstage, you get just what you see. And what you saw was not very polished. But Clint was not totally to blame. On a film project, you have great writers as well who supply material and dialogue at its best. Clint sadly had to rely on the GOP's poorly written record and even sadder myopic vision for the country. I will see the new Clint Eastwood film, and I know he will be good in it. When he works in his best medium he is great. And, of course his material will be first-rate this time. The next time Clint 'makes my day,' I am sure it will erase this sad vignette from my memory."

This discussion might shed some light.

BaltG: "I'm a 'liberal.' I'm also a big fan of Eastwood and his movies. However, if the GOP is trying to shake the 'tired old white guy' image, this was a clown show of a stunt. Man, that party has been imploding."

Jason Mika: "We are not trying to shake anything: That 'tired old white guy' image you talk about is projected upon us by people like yourself with myopic and outdated viewpoints that do nothing but expose your own personal biases. By the way, Paul Ryan is 41 years old and last time I checked, the media was all aflutter because he uses P90X. Not exactly tired or old in my humble opinion. P.S.: Imploding ???? Most polls that are not completely biased have it neck and neck, and remember the midterm elections and the Wisconsin recall; how did that end up for your party??? Stop living in a fantasy world, lemming."

For some, the speech was a refreshing moment.

LC: "I loved this speech! It was Clint to the bone because Clint doesn't give a rat's tutu about what the libs think – much like most conservatives. He was effective with the 'time for you to go' and the '23 MILLION people out of work'. The libs are whining, why did they ruin the convention with Clint? MSNBC saying, why didn't they have George W.? Really? Are you serious? Clint got the WORLD talking about the night. And that is a welcome change from an utterly forgettable, scripted president."

What do you think about Eastwood's chair speech? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Comments • Politics • Republican Party
soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. Beartooth Bronsky

    It was wonderfully ironic to watch Clint Eastwood 'debate' an imaginary Obama, since the entire GOP has been running against an imaginary Obama since the day he was elected. Are the Republicans even capable of acknowledging real people who disagree with them, or is the only way they can "score a point," to create a cartoon-like strawman, punch the strawman instead of the opponent, and delude themselves into thinking they took a winning shot at the real opponent?

    This campaign reminds me of Adlai Stevenson's admonition to the GOP. He offered a trade, if the Republicans would stop lying about the Democrats, the Democrats would stop telling the truth about the Republicans.

    September 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Beth

    Cllint Eastwood may always called it as he sees it, but so do I! He sounded senile–what a comedown for a heretofore admirable celebrity. So sad.

    September 5, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Fernando Carlos

    Clint Eastwood's 'empty chair' is case of senile dementia...

    September 6, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Fernando Carlos

    lol , Mitt Romney have law degree from Harvard,total senile dementia

    September 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Lsteel

    Today the last refuge of the scoundrel is to say "It was just a joke! Don't you have a sense of humor?" This has happened so many times during this campaign, and I guess will continue indefinitely.

    The worst part of this trend is that usually the tasteless/offensive/confusing/untrue (choose one or more) comment is not funny. If you have to explain that it's a joke, the joke has failed.

    September 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jim Mapes

    The poster quoting about John Wayne and Kennedy has it wrong. Wayne was talking about a new, untried President. Eastwood is talking about a President thats had 4 years to demonstrate his ineptness in managing the economy, or even his deliberate sabotaging of it as some would say due to his contrary st of values to Western culture & values. 2016: Obama's America did very well at the box office, and it provided a very compelling case for the root of Obama's philosphy and seemingly clueless handling of our country & its relations with others.

    Eastwood has at the near end of his career, achieved one of his greatest legacies.

    September 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. James G. Borden

    AMERICAN PATRIOTS' MOVEMENT OF AMERICA
    The Kenyan born Muslim is of the antichrist and anyone who has been given spritual sight by the Holy Spirit can easily see evil in Obama and his wife.
    Only people who have been blessed with spirtual sight of recognizing evil will know what I'm talking about – the other people will have no clue and will criticize me.

    September 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Capitan

      ^^^Funniest post of the day. Right there.

      September 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. James G. Borden

    AMERICAN PATRIOTS' MOVEMENT OF AMERICA

    National Headquarters: Hilo, Hawaii

    I support Clint Eastwood for he was right on the money and his speech was very funny.
    Furthermore:

    The Kenyan born Muslim is of the antichrist and anyone who has been given spiritual sight by the Holy Spirit can easily see evil in Obama and his wife.

    Only people who have been blessed with spirtual sight of recognizing evil will know what I'm talking about – the other people will have no clue and will criticize me.

    September 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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