The punditocracy, almost to a (wo)man, failed to demonstrate much imagination Friday morning by portraying Clint Eastwood’s Thursday night performance as that of a somewhat dotty octogenarian tossing rambling questions at a phantom Barack Obama seated in what many referred to as an “Elijah Chair” (the seat traditionally reserved for the prophet at Jewish circumcision ceremonies).
It took the usually reliably reactionary Breitbart News to summon the necessary wit to instead see Eastwood as the gifted producer/director/actor/composer that he actually is, talking to a chair that was intended to represent Barack Obama personified; i.e., a symbolically empty seat of power. It was (or could have been) a metaphor as powerful as Garry Trudeau’s graphic depiction of George W. Bush as an empty Centurion helmet, the rendering of Mitt Romney as an empty suit, or even Thomas Nast’s durable 1874 cartoon representing the Republican party as an elephant.
Perhaps if the stagehands had dragged out a duplicate Concorde Presidential Chair, the intended[?] metonymy might have gotten through to GOP handlers and spurred them to pick it up and run with it, rather than patronizing Eastwood with faint praise (see Ann Romney’s masterfully elusive circumlocution on CBS News This Morning).
Maybe I’m giving ol’ Clint more credit for outside-the-box creativity than he actually deserves in this instance, but hey, we octogenarians gotta stick together.