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Clint, Clinton, an Empty Chair, and the Two Conventions
There is no better example of the stark differences between the two parties than their conventions. And there is no better example of the above sentence than Clint Eastwood and Bill Clinton. Clint's Republicans have become a party of old white people (men, mostly) while Clinton's Democrats still have an appeal to young people of all races and genders. Clint and his party is desperate to define the President, after a summer of being defined by the President, and the best they can come up with is an empty chair. Clinton gave accusations of the Republican Party and Mitt Romney that stuck to the facts, and that will stick to Republicans.
When Clint Eastwood came plodding out onto the stage at the RNC, I was actually eager to hear what he had to say, not knowing that I would soon be flipping to "NCIS" (great show, by the way) as an excuse to not listen to Clint. It wasn't because of his criticisms of the President, which I had gotten used to that week. It was because of the chair. At first I thought nothing of it. Maybe he wanted to sit down. Clint has never needed to sit down in his life, but maybe he should have this time. When Clint started talking to the chair, I thought he had gone mad. When I realized that Clint was speaking to an invisible Obama, I started flipping channels. I got the joke, but it was not funny. It made Clint look senile.
After all, what are we supposed to think when an 82 year old man speaks to an empty chair? The crowd seemed to go along though, so that's okay. At least Clint wasn't alone in his delusions; the whole of the Republican party seems to have gone senile these days, for the simple reason that the Republican party has gotten old. And white, which is a bad combination, because old white people are an ever shrinking share of the population. Sure, the Republican party has its share of rising stars, many of whom are minorities, which the party was eager to show off. I wish those rising stars only the best of luck. But 86 percent of the Republican party is white, and it is mostly male, and increasingly old.
Compare this to the Democrats. As a party, things look a lot better for them in the long run, because minorities make up a large chunk of the Democratic coalition. Obama is still leading among Latinos and among women, and with both groups, he has reasons to boast of their support. African Americans support Obama by about 96 percent, and many other minority groups have little reason to love the Republicans. And of course, the Democrats have Bill Clinton. The man cannot be kept silent, ever, so the DNC decided to make him useful. As it turned out, Clinton delivered a powerful case for Obama's reelection, placed solid facts into his very specific speech, and fell in love with the crowd even as he swept them off their feet.
What more can we expect of Clinton? Like Clint, he gave an overlong speech. Unlike the Hollywood hero, Clinton gave a useful overlong speech, and he had the audience on their feet most of the time. Clint Eastwood offered the RNC an empty chair, no doubt to symbolize Obama's perceived lack of achievement. Clinton went ahead and sat in it.
The Republicans left themselves open and bare at the RNC. They had the best chance that they are going to get at defending their positions on Medicare and proposing new ideas to save the economy. They chose to waste this opportunity by going after Obama, and trying to tell us how he failed, an excuse which now rings hollow after the Democratic convention in Charlotte. Clinton spoke while the DNC was at the highlight of its show, and he slammed the Republicans hard where they should have been expecting it. Not only that, but fact-checkers (I have one below) are amazed at just how factual the former President was.
The Republican Party put forward an empty chair, and revealed their empty excuses. The Democratic Party was only too happy to fill the empty space.
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