Clint Eastwood’s famous speech to an empty chair at the last Republican National Convention quickly became a national punchline, which was weird because the empty chair thing made more sense than half the stuff that happens there. Now a new book explains the backstory behind the stunt. Double Down: Game Change 2012, from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, comes out today, and The Dissolve has summarized some of the inside dirt from it about the speech.
The two main points are:
1. Clint Eastwood’s chair speech was inspired the the Neil Diamond song “I Am, I Said.”
2. Clint Eastwood ain’t care.
As was first reported back in February, Eastwood’s idea to harangue an empty chair came to him while sitting in a hotel room preparing for his speech. The 1971 Neil Diamond single “I Am… I Said” came on the radio, and the lyrics “I am/I said/To no one there/And no one heard at all not/Even the chair” sparked a brainwave. Watching Eastwood deliver his subsequent speech made senior Romney advisor Stuart Stevens vomit.
Aw, just like the kid in Unforgiven after he kills his first guy! If only Morgan Freeman had been there to help calm him down.
The actor himself wasn’t bothered. In February, he admitted to CNBC’s Becky Quick that the speech “seemed odd at the time… But, you know, I’m an odd person.” “One thing about getting into the senior status of life, like I am, you don’t really care. You just say what you say and then you get away with it,” he added. Double Down reports another, even blunter post-speech reaction from the actor: “If somebody’s dumb enough to ask me to say something, they’re gonna have to take what they can get.” [TheDissolve]
While I disagree with most of Clint Eastwood’s politics, I have the utmost respect for his stinginess with respect to giving f*cks. He’s a strict conservative when it comes to f*ck giving, and that I can get behind.
It’s interesting that someone could be inspired by “I Am, I Said,” a song whose lyrics, and that bit about the chair in particular, were once cited by Dave Barry as the worst lyrics ever written, and even spawned an entire book called “The Book of Bad Songs.”
In any case, I’m still baffled that everyone was worried about Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention, and no one was talking about him singing to his dead wife’s gravestone in Trouble with the Curve.
I turned this on when it was on cable the other day and it was right in the middle of this scene. I thought I was having an acid flashback.