Patrick Gaspard, the executive director of the Democratic National Committee, was watching the relatively small and fast-moving protest go by on Charlotte’s South College Street when I bumped into him. So, I couldn’t resist asking him about the chair.
Did Gaspard think it was disrespectful of Clint Eastwood to depict President Obama as an invisible man in an empty chair on stage during the Hollywood legend’s bizarre act at the Republican National Convention? After all the real slights and rudeness Obama has had to put up with, Eastwood’s impromptu stand-up struck me as more spectacle than breach of etiquette.
“First, Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair and then Mitt Romney gave an empty speech,” Gaspard replied. “So, I’m going to focus on Mitt Romney [and] his lack of clearly delineated plans for middle-class Americans.” But Gaspard, who was Obama’s political director in the first half of the term, had more to say.
This was not Clint Eastwood’s convention. It was Mitt Romney’s. He hired these Hollywood consultants to reinvent himself and all I saw, yet again, was the same guy who was a private-sector outsourcer, a failed governor of Massachusetts and now an extreme right-wing candidate for the presidency. So, I’m going to focus on that.
Echoing Obama, who told USA Today that Eastwood “is a great actor, and an even better director,” Gaspard hastened to add one last point. “I’m going to give my man Clint a pass,” he said, “since he’s been such an iconic hero.”