The world moves so fast these days. Thursday night, Clint Eastwood gives a weird, unforgettable performance at the Republican National Convention during which he talks to an empty chair that is supposed to be President Obama.
That day and the following day he gets alternatively ripped and praised, depicted as senile or as crazy like a fox. And then, social media takes the story deeper. People from across the political spectrum seize on Eastwood’s empty chair theme. Democrats mock him with “Invisible Obama” pictures and tweets on Twitter. Republicans respond with “empty chair” tweets and blog posts. And then someone declares today to be National Empty Chair Day, and from coast to coast Romney supporters are taking photos of empty chairs in various poses — and the press starts writing about it.
Clint Eastwood therefore has accomplished something beyond the powers of mortal men. He’s brought Republicans and Democrats, conservative “wingnuts” and liberal “moonbats” together, by making the empty chair a potent political symbol for both parties. Put chairs out on your front lawn (as some of our neighbors have) and let people guess whether you are marking National Empty Chair Day, or Invisible Obama Day . . . or maybe you just plan to sit in your yard later, with the bare feet in the grass, on the last day of a three-day weekend. Whatever you mean, why not be part of a goofy national craze?
In the meantime, we can all marvel at the speed of the modern world. It used to take a week or a month for fads like hula hoops or pet rocks to sweep the nation. Now, it just takes a camera, a twitter account, and a potent symbol, and within minutes people are off to the races from sea to shining sea.