The cringe-inducing moment will stay with poor ol' Clint, forever obscuring his excellent movie career and spawning the word "eastwooding" - the act of arguing with an imaginary opponent represented by an empty chair.
Republicans have been eastwooding for years - but the phenomena made famous by a rich, white old man has become a campaign strategy for a range of conservative candidates, particularly in Wisconsin.
It was reported last week that several candidates for Burlington School Board associated with the WeVote PAC - a conservative, tea party group - refused to participate in a candidate forum sponsored by the Burlington Standard Press causing them to cancel the whole event.
One of the two tea party candidates refusing to participate asked the Standard Press just last year to submit their questions in advance - so she could carefully write her answers ahead of time. This year, she just scraped the whole thing.
Over the weekend, we learned that Don Pridemore, candidate for State Superintendent against Tony Evers, made a blacklist of five reporters he would refuse to grant interviews unless their questions were submitted in advance. From a staff memo:
"These are all LIBERAL's and have chosen to parse words, phrases and spin my responses to fit their agendas. If they continue to spin our written responses, they will be ignored in the future."Naturally, Pridemore is denying the blacklist this morning - and blaming it on a staff member who misunderstood his words.
Folks around Racine can't help but recall Van Wanggaard's hilarious - "I was never invited to the forum" gaffe last year, only to be forced to admit the invitation was in the backseat of his car after organizers provided a certified mail receipt signed by his wife at his home address.
Van was kinda famous for refusing to debate - holding his own "debates" instead - forcing his opponents to show up and ask him why he was such a chicken. In his career, Wanggaard may have actually dodged more debates than he participated in - yet believes to this day the recall election was stolen from him, not voted out for being a pussy - something he may want to consider if he runs again.
It is also a lesson for conservative minded candidates who think it's a better strategy to refuse to show-up or ignore invitations from groups they consider too liberal, too ethnic or too opposed to their ideas to even bother with them.
When honestly stating your ideas becomes an electoral liability to the point you must conceal your policies - even the people who support you should reconsider your qualifications. Holding an elected office means you represent ALL your constituents. If someone like Don Pridemore and the newest class of conservative chickens won't even pretend to present and defend their ideas - they shouldn't receive a single vote from anyone.