Clint Eastwood Tries to Explain His ‘Silly’ Chair Bit at the 2012 Republican Convention

There's a grief that can't be spoken. Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Clint Eastwood is not a man with many regrets, but he is haunted by one thing, a looming specter, an empty chair — specifically the one he talked at for ten minutes during the 2012 Republican National Convention. When asked about what troubles him in an interview with Esquire, Eastwood said: "What troubles me is … I guess when I did that silly thing at the Republican convention, talking to the chair …" Then, Eastwood goes on to explain the rationale behind his speech, insofar as there was any rationale.

It was silly at the time, but I was standing backstage and I'm hearing everybody say the same thing: "Oh, this guy's a great guy." Great, he's a great guy. I've got to say something more. And so I'm listening to an old Neil Diamond thing and he's going, "And no one heard at all / Not even the chair." And I'm thinking, That's Obama. He doesn't go to work. He doesn't go down to Congress and make a deal. What the hell's he doing sitting in the White House? If I were in that job, I'd get down there and make a deal. Sure, Congress are lazy bastards, but so what? You're the top guy. You're the president of the company. It's your responsibility to make sure everybody does well. It's the same with every company in this country, whether it's a two-man company or a two-hundred-man company… . And that's the pussy generation — nobody wants to work.

It's true: Neil Diamond is the reason white men over 60 do anything. Though the empty chair bit was central to the last RNC, Eastwood also stresses that he hasn't endorsed a candidate this year — he likes that Trump speaks his mind, but admits "sometimes it's not so good." In fact, Eastwood resists describing himself as a libertarian, preferring the notion that he's "a little of everything." Mostly, he's "anti–the pussy generation," which is how Eastwood describes the young people these days, "not to be confused with pussy." At this point, his son Scott chimes in: "All of us are pro-pussy." Thanks, Scott.