Barack Obama, the Empty Stool

Barack Obama, the Empty Stool August 31, 2012

The liberal elites who are denigrating Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republican National Convention last night are only hurting themselves.  Swing-state independents and undecideds like Clint Eastwood a lot more than they like liberal elites.  They will only harden in their support for Clint’s folksy commonsense the more it’s contrasted with the cheap and scornful hyper-partisanship of the Daily Kos and HuffPo crowd.

I thought the premise was brilliant.  Clint seemed a little nervous, a little out of his element, but that only made him more relatable, more like the kind of guy you’d have a beer with.  (Seriously, who wouldn’t want to have a beer with Clint Eastwood?)  But the premise was perfect.

President MIA

To everyone who has not consumed the Kool Aid, Barack Obama seems strikingly insubstantial.  “Senator Present” from Illinois became a U. S. Senator who was more interested in campaigning than legislating.  Then he became an empty promise in the 2008 campaign, a micron-thin veneer of glitz and glamor over a hollow core, an empty screen onto which everyone projected their wishes.  Six weeks after the inauguration, when he was thoroughly in the honeymoon phase and largely still campaigning against President Bush and on behalf of a stimulus, he uttered one of the most vapid and immature things I have ever heard from a President, when he told a bunch of television anchors at the White House: “I like being President, and it turns out I’m very good at it.”

That’s humility and wisdom for you: six weeks into a four-year term, and he’s already prepared to declare himself “very good at it.”  I guess that’s what happens when you’re the kind of guy who gets a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing.  Thank goodness he likes being President, though — because, you know, it’s all about him.

President Obama has consistently been absent, more concerned about branding than leadership, with image and atmospherics than truly rallying the troops and harnessing our resources and solving our most pressing problems.  He turned over the task of crafting solutions on the stimulus bill and the health care bill to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, who predictably butchered it.  He botched the budget compromise with John Boehner and withdrew from the process.  When he thought that partisan gridlock in Congress might make him look bad, rather than forging into the gridlock and navigating a way forward he withdrew to the White House and played over 100 rounds of golf.

The problem for President Obama is that the soaring oratory will not work this time.  The contrast between the rhetoric and his actual achievements is too great.  So instead he can vilify the opposition and pretend that raising taxes on the rich will solve our financial mess.  It won’t.

Here is one of the key distinctions between the Obama campaign and the Romney campaign: one is centered on a theory of what will revive the economy, while the other is centered on a cynical ploy to rally the middle class against “the rich.”  Or in Romney’s words from last night’s speech, one is focused on creating tomorrow’s prosperity while the other is focused on redistributing today’s.  Even in theory, the centerpiece of Obama’s argument, if implemented, would accomplish virtually nothing to resolve our nation’s most serious problems.

According to most accounts, even friendly ones, President Obama is haughty and surly.  To those with eyes to see, he is an act.  A vacuous promise.  An illusion.  An empty stool.

My suspicion is that Clint intended to say more, but decided it was a good time to pack it in when the crowd was applauding the “make my day” performance.  He’s suffering the slings and arrows now.  One of the immediate “fact-checkers” pointed out, over against Eastwood’s barb that it was time for “a businessman” and not “an attorney” to occupy the White House, that Mitt too has a law degree.  Which is true, but there’s a difference between a person with a law degree and an attorney, and Mitt took his dual JD/MBA and became precisely what Eastwood said, a businessman.

But the snarky complaints from the left and the spurious fact-checking only make Clint look better.  They’re making his day.

Because Clint is fundamentally correct: the Barack Obama that was promised in 2008 never made an appearance.  And now it’s time to give the seat to someone else.

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  • Here is one solid conservative who has said bad things about Clint’s appearance. Not because of what he said, but because his speech was a mess. That’s not so much slamming Clint as it is feeling sad for him. I was embarrassed watching it. The empty chair. The two references to Obama saying to go screw yourself, or something similar. It was barely coherent, and I feel sad for him. I’m gonna watch “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” tonight, to remember the greatness of Clint Eastwood.

    • teapartydoc

      Ever heard of a “concern troll”, concern troll?

      • LaurieK

        Concern troll is concerned! Can’t you just feel it? 😀

      • Sundown

        So anyone who dares to disagree with you is a concern troll?

    • Abelard Lindsey

      Really? I thought Clint’s appearance was quite good. That his speech was a “mess” actually worked in his favor because it made him sincere. He absolutely excoriated Obama as far as I’m concerned.

  • Martin

    Wow your scorn for Obama and veneration of Romney is escalating swiftly. More ad hominem attacks, less substance. Gotta be honest: it reads borderline fanatical.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      My views haven’t changed; I just haven’t written about Romney v Obama for a while.

      He’s no savior – there’s only one savior, and the dead aren’t raised by politics. But I have long regarded Romney as the best candidate we have had since Reagan. As for Obama, I’ve had a low opinion of him since 2007.

      I’ll try to be fair, and I’m sure I will sometimes do better than others, but I do plan to comment a lot on these things in the coming months. Fair warning. 😉

      • Martin

        Noted. Philosophical Fragments is my refuge for intelligent conservative opinion. We disagree about a great deal, but I’ve always found your writing compelling and worthy of engagement. In short, I trust you to weigh the issues carefully and faithfully.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Thanks, Martin. I appreciate your comment, and I’ll try to live up to it.

      • Bob Roberts

        Romney best candidate since Reagan? What you been smokin’? Still, he’s head & shoulders above anything the Democrats did or could offer. And perhaps my opinion will change after he wins in November and is inaugurated in January.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          I hope so, Bob!

        • richard40

          Compared to either one of the bushes, or the loser McCain, yes romney looks pretty good. And he looks wonderful compared to obama.

    • Bob Roberts

      Gee Martin, I thought the vicious ad hominem attack you chose to end your completely insipid remarks with was really a great way to reveal what a hypocrite you truly are, considering what you said earlier. Would it be perhaps unwelcome for me to suggest that, before you hit the “post” button to comment on line, you re-read what you wrote and see if perhaps you aren’t just going to make a complete fool of yourself again? Because that’s really all you accomplished here with your comments. Nice going! And nothing personal – I’m not attacking you, just trying to give you some constructive criticism here!

    • craig

      Note: whenever I read a political opponent use words like “unhinged”, “deranged”, “outrageous”, or the ever-popular “fanatic” I realize that it’s because they don’t have a substantive, coherent argument to make that will sway minds, so they resort to lowest-common-denominator scare language.

      It also means we are winning the battle.


  • And the headline — since everyone else has been calling it a ‘chair’ — seems to have a double entendre.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Heh. I awoke this morning — prior to seeing what others would write — expecting to write something on the empty stool. The potential double entendre did not escape my attention, but I could have played it up more, and decided to refrain. Sometimes discretion is the better part of humor.

  • matt

    So you’ve given up on the whole “evangelical” blogging and have moved onto straight Romney blogging?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Sometimes I blog on evangelical issues. Sometimes I blog as an evangelical on more general issues. I do try to incorporate a moral/spiritual element in the great majority of posts, but I don’t feel obligated to do so in every single post.

      • John R Huff II

        Well, just what was your purpose in writing this. It sounds bigoted and racist.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Bigoted and racist. Love it.

        • Erich

          Sorry… but there’s no gentle way to put this, so I’m just going to come right out and be blunt: Your reading comprehension skills are below that of a three year old.

        • obladioblada

          Well, obviously. Anything that is anyway critical of Obama’s politics, policies and performance has to be racist, because there’s no way that any rational human being could disagree with the New Messiah’s politics, policies and performance. Disagreement = racism. Thus it is proclaimed and we are all obligated to conform to officially-approved thought.

          I do confess to disappointment that the seas haven’t stopped their rise. But then, maybe there is more than the US regulatory system involved in commanding the forces of nature.

        • Jimbo

          Thanks for so concisely encapsulating the pro-Obama rhetoric from this campaign.
          Since you cannot refute Mr. Dalrymple’s skewering critique of Obama’s (abysmal) performance, your only refuge is call him a racist and bigot.
          Well done. We anxiously await more of your insightful commentary.

        • LaurieK

          Newsflash: there’s nothing racist or bigoted about demanding competence. Why would you interpret a call for such a thing to be either? It says a great deal about your views and mindset that you do. And what it says is not complimentary.

        • Bob Roberts

          I’m going to go out on a limb here, not knowing enough about John R. Huff II to know if his post was sarcastic or if he really meant it, and note that the funny thing is the only one bringing bigotry and racism here seems to be John R. Huff II!

          Fancy that.

        • Mike Bell

          Imagine after Romney being elected POTUS, that every single time anyone on the left criticizes him, they are called “bigoted and racist”. No, it would never happen. But can you just imagine what it would feel like? Romney being a Mormon, the right could just accuse the left of bigotry after any and all criticism is launched at Romney. Fun, eh? It would be as crazy as being accused of hating women any time you voice an opinion that runs contrary to lefty feminists. Oops…

        • Gary Fuller

          Huh??? Vega isn’t as far a reach as your comment is.

        • Oprwer

          You left out “extremist”.

    • David French

      Well, considering the RNC was dominating the news last week, it’s rather logical that Tim would write about what’s in the news. I’m sure he’ll write about the DNC as well. He wrote about the Olympics when it was going on. Anyway, it’s hardly a surprise that a pro-life conservative would support a pro-life conservative.

  • matt

    I commented on this before reading it. Wow. I am amazed. This is truly ugly writing Mr. Dalyrymple. Really ugly.
    Clint’s speech was a disaster. The Romney people were going nuts during it and he completely upstaged the speech by the nominee. It was also, like your article, amazing disrespectful. Obama has a lot of faults, but he is not an empty chair. He inspired millions of people and has a list of impressive accomplishments: The Nobel Peace Prize, The stimulus that saved our economy, the bail-out of the auto industry (along with Bush’s first attempt), and the first person in America to attempt to provide healthcare for the 45 million people who don’t have access. You can disagree with him all you want and advocate for your guy as strongly as you wish, but to write about him with such contempt and, to repeat myself, ugliness, says a lot more about the paucity of your soul than his job performance. Obama hasn’t tortured people, or started two wars. He hasn’t demonized his opponents or been personally vicious. He just believes and governs differently than you.
    And your t “I like being president and it turns out I’m very good at it” quotation seems to be garbage. A google search of the quote turns up this blog as the number one result and your link is not to a particularly reliable source. Do you have more info on this? I’ve never heard of it before.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Well, I see it differently, Matt. I — unlike many conservatives — actually credit TARP with helping pull us back from the brink, but that was well underway before Obama was inaugurated. I actually think the stimulus was a disaster on the whole, but a mixed one, with some positives and many negatives, and overall an extremely inefficient use of over a trillion dollars (after interest is factored in). I do credit Obama for some things in those early months, but mostly for continuing in the direction Bush had established. The Nobel Peace Prize? I don’t view it as an accomplishment but an expression of irrational exuberance on the part of the selection committee.

      Where I credit Obama is more in the area of foreign affairs, where I think he has made some missteps but also not done anything disastrous, and sustained the effort in Afghanistan (although I think we all wonder whether it’s worth it at this point). I do give him some credit for the auto bailout, although the jury will be out on that one for quite some time.

      I didn’t see anything “amazingly disrespectful” in Clint’s speech. It had some humor in it, as in his pretending to hear Obama saying certain things, but it was very restrained in what it said. What do you think about those promises that have gone unfulfilled? Maybe it’s time for someone else. He couched everything very softly, like a gentle guy who has to say, “Do you think perhaps it’s maybe time for you to, you know, step aside and let someone else have a shot?” rather than demanding “You are a failure and you must leave now!” So I thought it was mild in its overt criticism, but the metaphor of the empty chair was very effective.

      Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard and widely respected. I can ask him for more information on that quotation — I will — but it wasn’t widely reported at the time. TV anchors don’t usually report on things said off camera, and this was still very much in the honeymoon period.

      I’m sure that Obama believes he’s doing the right thing. I appreciate his commitment to fatherhood, his faith. I don’t think he’s rotten or evil or fanatical or stupid. But I also think he’s been all show and no substance. I think he ran in 2008 believing that it would position him for 2012 or after; I don’t really think he expected to win — because he was not prepared.

      I’m just calling it as I see it. Sorry if you think that’s ugly.

      • John R Huff II

        Mr D , I believe Matt got it perfectly right:
        “says more about the paucity of your soul. ” you are not in line with the teachings of Jesus. No Republican can be. I am being blunt. Your are young and have much to learn about life.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Because, as everyone knows, people get more liberal as they get older. I’m sure I can find that statistic somewhere…

        • Wow, Mr. Huff: No Republican can follow the teachings of Jesus? Why don’t you just go ahead and say that Republicans cannot be Christians?

          • Timothy Dalrymple


        • Synova

          Wow… no Republican can be in line with the teachings of Jesus.

          Just… Wow.

          How do people write things like that?

          • malvolio

            You have to take such comments with humor, otherwise you are poisoned yourself.
            Here is something that is in line with the teachings of Jesus: Judge not, that ye be not judged,
            I have always thought this concerned projection. We all project our faults on others. It’s a basic trait of we ego-driven humans.
            Jesus did the opposite; he took other’s faults on Himself.
            When you call another racist because you disagree with him, you are seeing the mote in the other’s eye, without considering the beam in your own eye.
            None of us can truly know, or judge, another’s soul. In the end, it is between each of us and God.
            I see devisive, ad hominem comments all over the internet. It is sad to see them here.

        • Synova

          Wow… no Republican can be in line with the teachings of Jesus.

          Just… Wow.

          How do people write things like that?

        • obladioblada

          When God told Moses “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no false Gods before me” he didn’t include any exception for the worship of ideology, even if it happens to be the veneration of liberalism.

        • David French

          Tim, this is a classic example of a troll.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            And I deleted the really extreme comment! I probably should have posted it, sunlight and disinfectants and such.

        • Diggs

          “No Republican can be in line with the teachings of Jesus”.
          Great. A Democrat tells me that I can’t be in line with the teachings of Jesus. That from the party where a majority of its members doesn’t even believe in God. The head of the Democratic Party believes that sin is being out of align with his values. Not His values, but his, as in Obama’s, values. Not the values that were given to us by God through Moses on stone tablets, but Obama’s values, given to him through his mother, Alinsky, Rev Wright, etc.
          As near as I can tell, Romney has come as close to living the teachings of Jesus as any man in my lifetime. He’s a Republican. Obama has rejected the teachings of Jesus as far as the definition of sin goes and replaced them with his own definition of sin. He’s a Democrat. I think I’ll stick with the Ten Commandments and follow Jesus, and Mr. Huff, you can stick with the Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and follow Dear Leader.

        • Bob Roberts


          Funny how one who apparently is a member of the party most determined to ban religion whenever and wherever possible would use it in such an inept and ridiculous fashion to try, and blatantly fail, to criticize others in such a way. Your statement, “no Republican can be in line with the teachings of Jesus.” screams “Non sequitur”. Care to stick the other foot in your mouth & down your throat trying to explain exactly what you meant when you said that? Or are you just a typical left wing hit-and-run troll?

        • Lars Groteballen

          John N. A. Huff, (get it?)

          You are certainly talking about Jesus’ town hall meeting where He said, “It is better to talk about giving, than to actually give. ” or “Pray in open public, and make a great noise while ye pray. Stand in front of Greek columns and make sure everyone is looking at you. Hold up thy chin and look down on your sycophants.”

          I think you’re thinking of the wrong Jesus there John.

      • nick

        why is it every time I read a GOP piece it is full of lies

        you f pathetic morons!

    • Bohemond

      “a list of impressive accomplishments: The Nobel Peace Prize, The stimulus that saved our economy, the bail-out of the auto industry (along with Bush’s first attempt), and the first person in America to attempt to provide healthcare for the 45 million people who don’t have access”

      That is what you consider “accomplishments?”

      So this is what the Left is reduced to: trying to persuade the electorate how delicious crap sandwiches taste.

    • tomindecatur

      How exactly did Obama “save” the auto industry? Save it from what? Here is something to think about….if there are about 12 million new vehicles sold every year in the US and a company that makes two million of them goes under, what happens? The number of new vehicles sold drops to 10 million? Uh, no…..people just buy another brand. But those are foreign cars, you cry. Uh, no. Honda makes cars in Ohio, Indiana and Alabama; Toyota makes cars in Kentucky and Texas; Nissan makes cars in Tennessee and Mississippi; Volkswagen makes cars in Tennessee; Hyundai/Kia make cars in Alabama and Georgia; BMW makes cars in South Carolina; Mercedes makes cars in Alabama. I do believe that these are American states and that those are American workers. I drive a Nissan Titan Crew Cab 4×4 pickup made in Mississippi, my wife drives a Kia Sorento made in Georgia. Those are domestic vehicles as opposed to the two Chevy Camaros that I have had that were made in Canada (which is NOT America) and the Chevy K5 Blazer that I had that was made in Mexico (which is NOT America). So are you talking about UAW jobs? Why didn’t you say so? Why would I want to save them?

    • Mike Ste

      Matt –
      I dont’ see how you can call this ugly writing. Your list of successes, on the other hand, is debatable – and odd. You give Obama credit for being the first to attempt to provide health care for the 45 million uninsured, for example, implying that you recognize his attempt has been a failure. (So we give leaders points for just trying, eh?) In addition, you insinuate that Bush tortured people, which is ludicrous – and ugly. You castigate Bush for starting two wars (though Obama certainly supported the first one), which is fine. But you don’t follow your own principles. Instead, you suggest that Mr. Dalrymple’s hostility should be tempered because it is simply the product of Obama believing and governing differently than Mr. Dalrymple. (Funny – I didn’t realize the latter governed.) Maybe it’s just me, but calling someone a torturer and warmonger is ugly. Maybe you are just upset that Bush didn’t govern like you wished he would?
      At least you admit that Obama has serious flaws. I would say the greatest of those flaws is the first success you listed – that he inspired millions of people – since he has now let millions of them down. Which, come to think of it, seems to be the thesis of Dalrymple’s piece here – Obama has been a terrible disappointment.

    • Steve

      Up is down. Black is white and cold is hot, right, Matt? It takes a particular brand of audacity – I admit I may have the wrong word here – to bring up the Nobel Prize as an accomplishment, to suggest that this economy is “saved,” and to claim Obama is not demonizing his opponents. His is the sleaziest campaign I have seen and I was a politician ( Dem) for 20 years. And killing American citizens and innocent bystander with drones as well as providing murder weapons to Mexican drug cartels are not achievements I can be proud of, although they may be your cup of tea. Time to get off the talking points and take a real look at your man.

    • Butch

      You can praise Obama all you like but everything the Dems have touched over the last 8 years has been a disaster. Obamacare is the worst of them all. I am all about reforming the system, making it better, ridding it of waste, fraud, and abuse, and making it more affordable. Obamacare does none of these things. It was crafted piecemeal to buy support from our elected officials as well as the industry that it is claimed to rien in! Our legislators pump out bills that end up hurting various segments of the population all under the guise of helping their special interests. Our Government has become the parasite that is killing its host!

      Tim, Excellent article. I love reading your work!

  • Dan

    FWIW I liked your post. My guess is that some really don’t want to read anything negative about the POTUS, epecially from a conservative.

    You have written on other social issues like sex at seminary, the olympics and liberal bloggers. Writing on politics is not out of the scope of this blog. Maybe on this particular topic some are a little sensitive because Easrwood was getting his shots in an effective way. The empty chair reminded me how Doonsbury cartoons used to depict Dan Quayle. It is also likely there would be no objection if an actor poked fun at Sarah Palin or GW Bush at the DNC shindig.

    Just my $0.02.

  • Joe

    I am disappointed with your political slanted writing especially when your specialty is Kierkegaard and that genre. Maybe you thought the person in the empty chair who represented the President of the United States telling another person to F U which I assume you as a Christian evangelical thought means “Forgive You”.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I guess my sensibilities are not as delicate as yours. If he had actually said the words, I would have thought it inappropriate. People just can’t stand a little humor when it comes to Obama. It goes to show the power of irony.

      I write on a wide variety of topics and have done so for years. My post-academic career has taken me more in the direction of public square conversations.

    • Bob Roberts

      Perhaps, if what you say is true, you would be happier somewhere else? I mean, why keep coming to a place where all you get is disappointment.

      Unless perhaps you’re a masochist, in which case, by all means, keep coming back for more!

  • Tim Suttle

    I think the disrespectful part was when Eastwood pretended the President was saying “go #@%* yourself,” to both Eastwood and Romney. Asking the invisible president questions was harmless, albeit out of place, comedy bit. Putting those lines in his mouth was a technical foul in that venue. Still, I agree wholeheartedly that the furor about Eastwood’s bit is way over blown. People look silly keeping it alive. They should have said, “That was dumb,” and moved on. We all complain about how over scripted these conventions and debates are… this is why.

    I think the “stool” double entendre isn’t helpful either. We can talk all day about the “empty” and I’m up for that. But the “stool” seems off sides.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I would have thought it inappropriate coming from Romney, and it certainly would have been disrespectful for Eastwood to say those words to Obama, and inappropriate in a different way for him to use those words on national television. As it was, I did not find it offensive or inappropriate. There’s certainly respect the office deserves, even if you don’t respect the one who occupies it. But, surprise, an actor at the RNC made a joke that imagined Obama cursing. Shocking!

    • Koblog

      It was not dumb. It was brilliant.
      Eastwood hit more points, more skillfully, in ten minutes than any other convention speaker:
      1. Made it okay to be conservative in Hollywood (“there are a lot of us”)
      2. Stated that conservative don’t “go around hotdoggin’ it” (tacitly stating liberals do)
      3. Casting Obama as an empty chair with a teleprompter in front of it. How perfect is that?
      4. Mocked “Hopenchange:”
      5. Oprah’s tears to get Obama elected during the Grant Park coronation “thing”
      6. Reminded us that 23 million people are unemployed in the era of Hope and Change
      7. “Time for someone else to come along and solve the problem”
      8. “Mr. President, how do you handle your promises? What about Gitmo? Your own party doesn’t like that.” …”What do you mean, ‘Shut up!?'”
      9. “Stupid idea” of trying terrorists in downtown NY city
      10. “You thought the Afghanistan war was okay. Why have a target date? Why not bring them home tomorrow morning?”
      11. A glimpse into the anger of Obama: “I can’t tell Romney that. He can’t do that to himself! You’re absolutely crazy.”
      12. “You’re getting as bad as Biden”(referring to our distinguished VP’s use if the f-bomb and general profanity)
      13. Biden being “the intellect of the Democratic party””…kind of a grin with a body behind it”
      14. Attorneys should not be president
      15. “It’s time for a businessman to be president…a ‘stellar businessman'” (quoting none other than Bill Clinton hissef!)
      16. “Time for you to step aside.”
      17. “You can still use the plane, but a smaller one when talking to students about college loans” (funny, isn’t it, how Obama won’t talk to adults, just students)
      18. “You’re an ecological man. Why would you want to drive that truck around?” (Obama’s hypocrisy about wanting all of us to drive golf carts while he moves in giant entourages like a king burning more fuel on the taxpayer dime that thousands of real-world workers commuting every day.)
      19. Back to Obama telling Eastwood to eff himself (and if you think that wasn’t going through the minds of the entire Obama campaign, you are living in dreamland)
      20. “We own this country.”
      21. “Politicians are employees of ours.”
      22. “You’re the best in the world….We should not ever forget that.”
      23. “When somebody does not do the job, we gotta let ’em go.”
      24. “Let them go.”
      25. “We don’t have to be mental masochists and vote for somebody that we don’t even really want in office…”
      26. “…just because they seem to be nice guys…or maybe not so nice guys, if you look at some of the recent ads going out there….” (deftly reminding America that Obama’s ads are vicious and not the work of a “nice guy”
      27. “Go ahead, MAKE MY DAY!” A humble bow to the audience, and he was off.

      Perhaps the PERFECT political speech. Unforgettable. Effective. Effective enough that Obama tweeted a picture of himself sitting in a chair looking very small and with big ears.

      Clint got to our thin-skinned, failed, Light Bringer

      • That was fabulous and the chair even got its own blog.

      • Mike Bell

        Well done, sir.
        The thing that upset me was how the Romney campaign didn’t get it and tried distancing themselves, i.e. they reacted the same way that the NYT did! Which shows you that the elites – for either party – see things the same way. They care more about the format than the content. Very disappointed with Romney’s team in that way. Sure, they are running an effective campaign, but what are their core values? Not impressed. Romney has no idea how much of a favour Clint did him. And you can tell Clint isn’t a huge Romney fan, but more an American who is tired of waiting for the empty chair POTUS to get around to doing something, and wants to give someone else a chance.

      • Jeff

        Concur with Koblog. Clint hit it out of the park.

    • Bob Roberts

      Well gee, Tim (Suttle), I think “Koblog” got it right when he pointed out:

      Back to Obama telling Eastwood to eff himself (and if you think that wasn’t going through the minds of the entire Obama campaign, you are living in dreamland)

      Actually I think that Obama has pretty much been doing his best to tell Republicans in general to “go ‘F’ yourselves” since he won the Democratic primary in 2008. While one might be able to criticize Clint’s delivery (yeah, maybe age is catching up with him, hence he spends more time on the other side of the camera now) without going too far into liberal lunatic land, I side with those who say the points he made were rock solid and brilliant!

    • This is the Obama who while campaigning mentioned his opponents, then extended his middle finger and scratched his eye…. he did that several times…

      Right, is that the Obama that you thought that Eastwood was disrespectful to?

  • Bob Wiley

    Before the Republican National Convention Peggy Noonan advised Republicans to use humor: “President Obama can’t stand to be made fun of. His pride won’t allow it, his amour propre cannot countenance a joke at his own expense. If Mr. Romney [and perhaps Clint Eastwood also] lands a few very funny lines about the president’s leadership, Mr. Obama [and all his diehard supporters]will freak out. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?”


    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Great quotation.

  • Jack Lifton

    Very well said.

    It’s amusing to me that when Sarah Palin called Nancy Pelosi “a ditz” no one in the MSM media even noticed it, but it was right on. Harry Reid is a political hack and Barack Obama is an empty suit. However Reid and Pelosi both have good survival instincts; they know that if the pupeteers appear on the same stage as the puppet the control strings will be hard to hide. Thus the quivering and cowardly fearful duo will be absent from the convention where the soaring rhetoric of “folks” and “Ya know” will preach to the die-hards as they enter the end-game.

  • The lament from the left (and the right) against Josey Wales was that he was babbling. Which is to say, there’s no coherent thought in there, nor his comments. Which implies that those making the charge are themselves witty and in tune with reality – which is largely untrue.

  • Koblog

    Candidate for Most Vapid Obama comment: (as he finds himself in a room with several NBA players) “It’s not often I’m the fourth or fifth most interesting person in the room.”

    That is clinically terminal narcissism.

  • Poole

    Clint was marvelous. Low key, simple, direct use of humor to make his points. Doubly effective when the target of the barb is incapable of self-deprecating humor. It has forced Obama’s supporters to defend him and in doing so, the they are proving the weakness of Obama.

    He did say that he was pretty good at being President. He also said that he would be a great Chief of Staff, a great Speechwriter, a great … In an interview with Oprah Winfer, he said that his job performance as President was a solid “B+” No modesty there.

    A person with thie level of self confidence either has many accomplishments that goes with his boasts or he has no failures and no accomplishments and has not learned to over-promise his capabilities. In short, he is the epitome of the “Idea Man”.

    The Idea Man never has to lower himself to the pedestrian task of implementing his idea so he never has to correct the problems that inevitably arise. He never has to take the blame for failure because his idea was brilliant, it was the execution that was flawed. Over time, the Idea Man realizes that the people around him are incompetent becasue they cannot make his ideas work. So, he looks for a new job where his ideas will be appreciated and implemented.

    I wonder. The next job for Barack. Secretary General of the United Nations?

  • I’m an Obama maven and you got him. In the process of making my videos I’ve come to know every nuance about the man. One of my favorite things he said, which went completely unnoticed, was this: If I have a fault, it’s that I’m honest to a fault. If you Google it, it might come up.
    My video of Obama’s Rudest Moments has caused a lot of outrage which is why I had to moderate comments.

  • gunnar myrdal

    Empty stool is what my dog leaves about after I have fed him Rice Crispies.

  • Marty

    The empty chair was great, an empty suit (on a valet rack) would have been more pointed, but maybe too much.

  • Budahmon

    That was an excellent post. You got it right. The man has done nothing. He allowed Reid, Pelosi, the AARP and a couple of leftist groups write the healthcare law. He allowed the same ones minus the AARP to write the stimulus. He actually thinks he did something. Two very bad bills.

    I loved what Clint did…..the man with no name interviewing a man with no substance.

  • I think Clint was having fun. Watch him with the sound off. I saw one of Peter Falk’s Columbo mannerisms that usually comes just before he exposes the culprit with some inconsistency. I thought I saw one of Charlie Chaplin’s moves from the Gold Rush. A movie aficiando (which I am not) could probably catch a lot more.

    Low key, drew the audience in, let em have it. Dropped the munitions on target with a surgical strike.

  • Carol M

    Most of you are probably to young to remember Jimmie Stewart inthe movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but I remember. And I say that Clint Eastwood delivered a speech in the same grand manner that Jimmie Stewart did.
    Mr. Eastwood did a grand job ! Three days later everyone is still talking about the empty chair. Point scored. Clint, you made my day.
    PS, my lawn will have an empty chair on Monday.

  • nick

    Eastwood was poster boy of senility.

    • tomindecatur

      If you want to see true senility, tune in to the DNC and watch Slow Joe Biden. Now that’s the real deal.


    DALRYMPLE: You’ve chosen to wear a mantle that obliges you to personally maintain the highest standards of intellectual honesty. Yet, like virtually all conservative writers with public platforms and powerful voices, you have chosen to criticize Obama without writing a word about his constitutional ineligibility for the office.
    You have chosen to remain silent and to risk a second illegal term and the irreparable harm that will result.
    It is almost impossible to imagine that so many clear thinking, informed, otherwise principled commentators,
    would succumb to to such a spineless (and dishonest) need to protect their positions rather than face the issue and describe the Elephant in the room. Apparently your readers are in silent concert with you, but, for this reader, your sad failure to deal with the eligibility issue renders anything else you write valueless.


    DALRYMPLE: Moderate away… I’ve addressed my remarks to other commentators, but not to you, so far as I know. But in the event, my remarks bear repeating.

    Meanwhile, I do not believe that you can provide an honorable defense for your silence.

    N.B. I am always ready to debate you, or any of your blogger colleagues, by writing, or speaking at any venue.

  • eldiabloloco

    I’m sure you must have meant “Barack Obama, puddle of stool”

  • surferdoc

    I loved the essay. Very thorough, insightful and compelling. Congratulations! (The pomposity of some of your critical commenters is hilarious, too.)

    Clint Eastwood flipped the Preference Cascade for a very large demographic that takes voting very seriously. He was the one speaker that is still being talked about and the only one who will be remembered. All the snark the Left possesses can’t get that genii back into the bottle.

    • Bobby B.

      Because our town ordinance forbids political signs until the month before the election, I am putting an empty chair in the middle of my front lawn. Thanks Clint!!

  • Bob Roberts

    You can tell how effective a speech is by how many howls you get from those who feel it hit home and as a result they got upset. Judging from the left’s response, the left leaning media’s response and the response of obvious leftists here, I’d say despite my slight misgivings about his delivery, Clint pretty much knocked it right out of the park!

  • Mike Bell

    The absolute best part of Clint’s speech was that he made the POTUS flinch. Brilliant. That the president of the USA felt he had to immediately respond to a crazy, old, angry white actor (as described by the left) – tells you everything you need to know about the effectiveness of the speech and that Clint was right. The response was so typical of the narcissus-in-chief. He just couldn’t stand being ridiculed. The GOP should do this every chance they get. And Democrats tsk-tsking those who treat the presidency with such irreverence? hehehehehe. Seriously, that is the funniest thing to witness. Putting the left in that position where they have to pretend to give a hoot about decorum is just precious. These are the people who defended a married POTUS having sex with an intern an affair in the oval office! Respect for the presidency, indeed.

  • willis

    “Obama has a lot of faults, but he is not an empty chair.”

    Au contraire, mon frere. His biggest fault is that he is an empty chair. Not since Jimmy Carter has our country been in need of a strong president with a strong moral foundation and sense of purpose. Instead, we got the weakest president ever, including Jimmy Carter, with no qualifications for the job, no maturity, no humility, and no ability to connect with a country desperately crying out for it. He has given our country no respect and deserves none in return. He works for us, not the other way around and it is time for him to go.

  • John Haas

    Back in the ’70s, when we were debating whether Christians should break out of their enclave and start wrestling with political issues as a way to effect needed change in society and culture, there were these naysaying voices around, usually from older fellows, who said the result would be a failed attempt to gain the world, and the loss of the soul in the process.

    • Bobby B.

      So do you think those wrestling in the ’70s were on the right track? [Were you one of them?] Are you now arguing that Christians should stop “wrestling with political issues as a way to effect needed change in society and culture”?

  • gmanq

    “The contrast between the rhetoric and his actual achievements is too great.”

    is it any greater now than four years ago?

  • matt

    Wow! look at all of these responses.

    First of all, Clint’s speech was a disaster. What do you remember from the RNC? The Keynote speech? The acceptance speech by the nominee? Nope. You remember the cranky, 82 year old movie star and his rambling disrespectful comedy routine. That’s the definition of failure. The nominee should always be the most important person in the room and his ideas should be highlighted above everything else. Eastwood destroyed that notion.

    And the speech was disrespectful. The image of an elderly and very wealthy white man deriding an empty chair, which he claims represents the first African-American president is….problematic. I don’t suggest that anyone in that room was a racist and I don’t think that the imagery was intended to be that way, but those are terrible optics. The section when he told him that they would allow him to fly around on a plane was disrespectful and condescending. The office demands a certain amount of respect. That doesn’t mean that it is wrong to criticize the president – I have plenty ofcriticisms for all presidents: including this one and he whose name must not be mentioned by Republicans. But to publicly and personally belittle the man is beyond acceptable.

    I am not particularly interested in debating policy points. No one is going to be convinced and you ain’t gonna convince me. But let’s be clear. Obama is one of the most accomplished and impressive people imaginable. He rose from the mixed race child of a single parent to become POTUS. He eschewed a life of wealth and privilege when he graduated as arguably the number one law student in the country, in order to help people on the south side of Chicago find housing. He is a dedicated father and husband and has never had even the hint of personal scandal – which is almost unheard of for a president at the point in his term. You may not like what he has accomplished, but he has governed almost exactly as he promised he would. The ACA, the stimulus, attempting to be bipartisan and open to the other party, trying to close Gitmo and ending the wars. These are all promises he made and that he has tried to keep. Always successful? Nope. Disappointing? Often. But a man who is trying to make the best of the horrible situations he has faced and who has performed extremely well (by my standards). You don’t have to agree with him, but to call him an empty suit or to suggest that he didn’t expect to win and wasn’t prepared doesn’t befit the nature of this website. I don’t like Mitt Romney much and I find his business carrer to be contemptible, but I would never deride him as being “an empty suit”. He is an extremely accomplished person and his career demonstrates an unusual level of drive and energy and competence. I think he would be a terrible president, but he seems to be a good man and a dedicated and enthusiastic father and grandfather. Those are qualities that are important to highlight and understand.

    You must be really proud of some of these comments Mr. Dalrymple. I especially like one that compares the president to a “puddle of stool.” Even your own comments where you obliquely compare the president to fecal matter are quite witty and, I am sure, rooted in your evangelical faith and your love of Kierkegaard.

    And Mike Ste, Georege Bush (hey! remember him?) did torture people. Water boarding is torture. John Yoo’s legal memo, wherein he asserted that the President could order parents to watch their children have their genitals crushed is an endorsement of torture. That is an empty suit.

    Steve: I don’t believe that you were a Democrat

    Koblog, You are right. The time when Clint suggested that it was bad for a lawyer to be president was hilarious. You know that Romney is a lawyer don’t you? And I keep hearing about Obama’s anger. Can you provide an example for me?

    • tomindecatur

      ” I don’t like Mitt Romney much and I find his business carrer (sic) to be contemptible”. What is it that you find “contemptible”? Bain Capital has over $1.56 billion in assets entrusted to them by public employee unions for their retirees. Those unions looked very carefully at their investment options and, after careful consideration, decided that Romney’s company represented their best hope. So that means that hundreds of thousands of retired school teachers, police, firefighters, cafeteria workers, janitors, bus drivers, clerks, sanitation workers, administrative assistants and others look to Bain Capital to make sure that their retirement income is in good hands. You find that contemptible? Strange values that you have there Matt.

      • matt

        So making money is the only value worth having?

        • tomindecatur

          It is if you are a retiree and you are counting on this income to pay your bills. Or do you posit that these retirees are greedy, selfish, money-grubbers? They are Democrats, remember.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      A couple things, Matt:

      1. I thought it was more a stool than a chair, and began composing this before everyone started referring to it as a chair. If I had meant it as a double entendre, I would have entitled it “Searching through the empty stool” or something. As for commenters, I get some silly/offensive comments from people on the right and some silly/offensive comments from people on the left. Lately there’s been much more of the latter, quite honestly.

      2. Romney has a JD (in addition to his MBA), but he is a businessman and not a lawyer. I don’t know whether he is barred (not to my knowledge), but he’s certainly not a practicing attorney who represents clients. Referring to Romney as a businessman instead of a lawyer seems abundantly justified.

      3. John Yoo did not write a legal memo like the one you describe. He was asked at a debate, I believe it was, and then again later in a congressional hearing, whether there were laws that would prohibit something like that. He said that there were no international treaties that would prohibit it, and in the case of American laws it would depend on the circumstances. Bear in mind that he was not talking more moral obligations or what the Bush administration actually did; he was explaining his view on what international treaties and American laws prohibited — and apparently his view was that there could be circumstances (the ticking time-bomb scenario, presumably) in which an American president could order such a thing without contravening any treaties or laws. I’m not a legal scholar and I don’t know whether that’s an accurate description of the relevant legal constraints on a President in extreme circumstances. I would wonder about the Geneva conventions, but I know that’s a complicated question too. Anyway, he was asked an empirical question regarding what the law permits. This is not to excuse his answer but just to frame it accurately.

      There’s nothing offensive or unkind in saying that I don’t think he expected to win. When he first started, I don’t think *anyone* expected him to win. There’s generally an order to things, and a first-term Senator who had never run before, in a year when everyone expected Hillary Clinton to be inevitable, was probably running more to gain understanding of the experience and position himself to be one of the leading candidates post-Hillary. I know it was a bit earlier, but when the Obamas were being interviewed and asked whether Barack would run for President, Michelle was incredulous. “He hasn’t done anything yet!” she said. I basically think she was right. I would have liked to see him get more experience as a legislator on the federal level, and then preferably as a leader in some branch of the executive, before becoming President. You have to admit it’s a huge jump for a first-term Senator with no major executive experience (no experience as a governor, no experience as the executive of a large company or large organization, no experience at State or HUD or Homeland Security or etc.) to jump straight into the Presidency. And no, I don’t think he was ready. I understand you see his first term as largely successful; I don’t. I think it’s been awful. I suspect he could have been a much better president if he had run in 2016 instead of 2008, and spent more of that time gaining a better understanding of the federal government, of foreign affairs, and of financial matters.

      I’m not sure why you say he was the top law student in the country, but…well, I guess the question in whether it’s “admirable” to become a community organizer depends on the circumstances and the motives. If he did so because he feared the hard work of working at a firm (I’m just giving an example, not sugggesting this is true), or did it because he wanted to build from there to become a politician and gain power and fame, then it’s less admirable, right? I’m inclined to say, though, that there are several admirable things in Obama’s biography and in his character. He was raised with some degree of privilege, having gotten an elite education from a very early age, but there’s nothing wrong with that, and he’s certainly worked hard and risen far, far beyond where he started. And he seems like a good family man and very disciplined in his personal behavior. All of that’s great. But I also think he sold a bill of goods in 2008 that he knew he could not fulfill. See my post, “The Wages of Spin,” if you’re interested in more.

      Thanks for the conversation.

  • Frank

    It’s obvious how much the dems are panicking. They know they are finished both in the White House and Congress. Look for more and more desperate ” hail Mary’s” and more ugliness and lies from them. They can’t even take their own spins seriously. Pride sets you up every time!

  • Sundown


    It’s odd that you begin this post by talking about swing voters liking this. Why would you think this? The only people who have been defending Clint on this have been hardcore Republicans (or non-affiliated conservatives) who would never vote for President Obama at all.

    When it comes to actual swing voters, it may surprise you to know that many of them at least like President Obama as a person (even if they disapprove of his job performance and may end up voting for Romney), and do not view him as someone who just curses people out the way he is being portrayed as doing. That is why they haven’t been liking this, and the mainstream buzz about this (outside of the conservative bubble) hasn’t been positive towards Mr. Eastwood.

    • Frank

      Actually many dem and libs thought Clint hit it out if the park. Bill Maher being one of them. Maher rarely says anything profound or with out bias but he was talking Clint up and his effectiveness on Real Time. There are others too.

  • Bobby B.

    Lots of folks in our town with a single chair in their front yards.