Christopher Benfey, The Empty Chair That Keeps Me Awake at Night
Where have we seen empty chairs before? We’ve seen them in the memorial to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing and empty benches placed outside the Pentagon to commemorate the victims of 9/11. Remember Van Gogh’s great painting of Gauguin’s empty armchair in his bedroom in Arles, in memory of his departed friend? Or the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the imprisoned dissident Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo two years ago, when the diploma and medal were placed on the empty chair reserved for Liu? Who do we want in the president’s chair, making decisions when the next crisis erupts? An Oval Office occupied by Romney would suffer from a different kind of vacancy, a void of ideas or convictions, a sketchy foreign policy based on China-bashing and pandering to his old pal Bibi.
Photo: An aide removing a chair from the Oval Office, 1974 (Corbis)