The Empty Chair II: Imagining an Eastwood-Obama sequel
By: Daniel Clark
The following is a fictitious revisiting of Clint Eastwood’s famous “empty chair” monologue, in which he poses questions to President Obama in absentia. Any similarity between the empty chair and the real President Obama is purely unavoidable.
CLINT: You know, Mr. President, the last time we had one of these little talks was when I was endorsing Mitt Romney at last year’s convention. The next day I was criticized by lots of people in both your party and his, who called me everything from disrespectful to senile, to just plain creepy and weird. I figured if anyone would be a good sport about it, you would.
Then again, maybe you wouldn’t. From what we’ve been learning about the IRS, it seems like you’re not very tolerant of opposition, let alone criticism. I know your story is that it’s all the fault of low-level staffers in Cincinnati. Do you really expect us to believe that a president whose main qualification was being a “community organizer” had nothing to do with a plan to stop certain political action committees from forming?
CLINT: I mean, even I’m not buying that, and I’m so gullible I was tricked into doing a stealth campaign ad for you during the Super Bowl. If instead of “our second half is about to begin,” I’d said “it’s a whole new ballgame,” I bet you’d have made sure that ad was seen by fewer people than the Pro Bowl.
Come to think of it, weren’t you the guy in ’08 who sent out “truth squads” of prosecutors and sheriffs to threaten people who said bad things about you? Didn’t you also try to scare TV stations out of running an ad by an organization that’s unfriendly to you? What the IRS has done pretty much falls in line with that stuff, doesn’t it?
CLINT: As someone who holds lots of political opinions that most people don’t think go together, I’m a little confused about whether I’m allowed to speak or not. I take it any opinion I state that agrees with you is acceptable, but as soon as I disagree, the taxman will be on me like a throbbing forehead vein.
I’ve never voted for you, Mr. President, but immediately after you won the first time, at least I respected you. I mean, I figured you and I were a lot alike. You’re slender, you’re popular in Hollywood, you golf, and you’re cool enough that everyone pretends not to notice your mole. Well, the similarities end there, and not just because I don’t sing like a wussy.
If I evaded responsibility the way you do, I’d never find work again. The ironic thing is that I’m the one who works in the world of make-believe. You’re the one who has hundreds of millions of people relying on him to do the responsible thing. People joke about you voting “present” all the time back in Illinois, but at least that means you were there. Now that you’re president, four Americans are murdered while serving their country in Libya, and the big mystery is, where were you? I mean, when you’ve got people spying on reporters’ parents and asking religious nonprofits what they pray about, it doesn’t seem too intrusive to ask the president to account for his whereabouts when our consulate was under attack, does it?
CLINT: You once said, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” which, frankly, is an odd thing for an American president to say. It’s a wonder you aren’t the one being called weird for your speech, instead of me for mine. Now, I’m not in favor of insulting anyone’s religion, but aren’t other people within their rights to do it? Maybe you and I would criticize them for it, but since when does the president decide that certain people can’t have the future just because they’ve said something offensive?
You really meant it, too. You blamed Benghazi on an American’s exercise of his First Amendment rights, even though we all know now that you knew better. You even threw the guy in jail, just for making a YouTube video that you didn’t like. Oh, I know you technically got him for violating his probation, but you and Mrs. Clinton made it clear that his arrest was his punishment for making the video.
Speaking as a filmmaker, I’m more than a little alarmed by that. There are lots of people out there who would like to see me arrested and jailed over Bronco Billy, but I’ve never had to worry about it before. Do I need to start worrying now?
CLINT: If making an offensive video is a federal offense, then our last president could have locked you up for that half-hour campaign ad you did four years ago. That’s the one where a series of people took turns describing America as the pits of the world, although they were surely better off then than they are now. That woman who moped about buying knock-off brand snacks for her kids probably hasn’t given them any snacks at all for so long, they don’t even know the meaning of the word “gummi” anymore.
We don’t see suffering people on the news like we have during every other economic downturn. Why do you think that is? Is it just because the media agree with you, or is it also because they like to keep their phone calls and e-mails private? I have to admit, I’m going to be a little concerned about your snooping next time I pick up a phone myself. Not that I’m Alec Baldwin or anything, but not every conversation is meant for those giant, flapping ears of yours.
What’s that you say, Mr. President? You can’t actually make your ears flap? Well, that’s okay. What you keep telling me to do to myself isn’t physically possible, either.
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.