2012 Tuesday: When Barry met Big Bird

Barack Obama leapt to Big Bird’s defense. Big Bird said, no thanks.

If the first debate between Obama and Mitt Romney winds up being a turning point in the election, the episode involving American children’s tallest, yellowest feathered-est friend may prove to be a symbol of what went wrong for the incumbent.

During the Oct. 3 debate, moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS NewsHour asked the candidates for specifics about how they’d tackle the federal debt and deficit. Romney reiterated the test he said he’d use to decide which spending to cut: “Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?” For examples, he named Obamacare and then said:

I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.

Obama did not address this remark during the debate, but within days his campaign released a short video ad mocking Romney’s position on PBS by comparing Big Bird to Bernie Madoff and saying, “Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it’s Sesame Street.”

Never mind that Romney, during the same debate, said the banking industry needs regulation and accurately described the Dodd-Frank financial “reform” bill as the cementing of Too Big To Fail in federal law and thus an enormous sop to the biggest banks. Never mind that Obama’s response to the same question about debt and deficits included a mention of “18 government programs for education” that he’d cut (cutting education funds? but it’s for teh kidz!). Or that Sesame Street is such a merchandising powerhouse that it easily could survive on its own (take it from a dad whose kids have Elmo on their pajamas and Cookie Monster on their diapers, in addition to probably a dozen or more toys, stuffed animals and books with the furry characters on them).

Never mind all that. The Obama campaign decided to make an issue, albeit a fairly minor one, out of saving Big Bird.

Which probably wouldn’t have been a big deal if the Sesame Street Workshop hadn’t issued this response:

Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down.

As the kids on Twitter would say: Obama campaign #FAIL.

Now, normally anything that keeps the Obama campaign from having to talk about the economy can be seen as a good thing for the incumbent. But getting rejected by Big Bird?

Mockery of mockery aside, this strikes me as a pretty apt summary of why the 70 million people who watched last week’s debate overwhelmingly thought Romney came out as the winner. Here was Romney, on a night when Obama attacked him for not being specific about his plans, making a specific statement about a spending cut he’d make — and one not likely to be popular with his intended audience that night, which very clearly was the small but critical group of undecided moderates in the electorate.

The Obama campaign’s response? Ham-fisted pandering that drew a rebuke from the very cause meant to be championed.

The talk throughout this general-election campaign about likeability has been overplayed because it misses the point. If the electorate wanted the most likeable guy available in the White House, Obama would have been running circles around Romney instead of never, for even a single day, leading the Real Clear Politics average of polls by even 6 percentage points (never by even 5 points since Romney effectively clinched the GOP nomination).

The voters aren’t looking for the guy they’d most like to attend a beer summit with. They’re looking for the guy who can run the country more effectively. Muppet panders, from a candidate who has presided over four consecutive $1,000,000,000,000-plus deficits and the surpassing of the $16,000,000,000,000 mark in federal debt, are not likely to resonate with them.

The race is not over by a long shot, but Obama suddenly has to do more than tread water if he’s going to win.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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481 comments Add your comment

Linda

October 9th, 2012
2:30 pm

The Romney campaign is running out of signs across the country. Supporters are placing empty chairs in their front yards. I placed an old worn out empty suit in the chair with an old bent, beat up, rusty golf club right next to it. The straw man is close by. I’m still slicing & dicing the pumpkin head.
Happy Halloween!

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:30 pm

What about the Obama channel? Oh, my mistake, we already have those, CNN, PMSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC. Wonder how much under the table subsidies Obama funnels to them?

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
2:31 pm

“Kyle has invented a rebuke, where there was none.”

Yeah, ’cause, “We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down.” isn’t a rebuke at all, now is it, MarkV?

Geez!

F. Sinkwich

October 9th, 2012
2:32 pm

“Mitt Romney on Tuesday slammed President Obama for talking about Big Bird on the campaign trail. “These are tough times, with real serious issues. So you have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about Big Bird,” Romney said at a campaign event in Iowa. “I actually think we have to have a president who talks about saving the American people.”"

Go get ‘em, Mitt.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:32 pm

If Obama-beer were being sold, upon opening the can or bottle, one would find nothing but hot air.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
2:33 pm

@Linda…”Obama has invested 35 BILLION of our hard earned tax dollars in these failed companies”

FLAT OUT LIE…

Read, learn…psst…everything you see on the internet from a right wing hack isn’t true.

http://factcheck.org/2012/10/romneys-clean-energy-whoppers/

Linda

October 9th, 2012
2:35 pm

Gimme 4 more years & let’s just see what happens! Keep hoping for change!

I take VISA, MasterCharge & EBT cards!

MANGLER

October 9th, 2012
2:36 pm

OK, for the first time, someone has asked the Dem in this race to please stop using their likeness – and you score that as some sort of victory?
How many song writers, companies, or agencies have threatened to sue a GOP member to stop using their likeness or product to endorse their ads this campaign season? 4 years ago as well?
Sesame Street gave its reason for the request as being that they are a neutral entity. When bands and products demand to be removed from the Reps ads, they flat out say it’s because they don’t want to be seen on that side of the aisle. If Big Bird was holding a Romney sign, then you may … MAY have a point here.

Gravy Train

October 9th, 2012
2:37 pm

Looks like Kyle and Willard are gonna have to shake the old etch-a-sketch again!

http://news.yahoo.com/popularity-high-romney-ditto-obama-110519458–abc-news-politics.html

Willard is riding a temporary surge until the next debate. Obama is still steady.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
2:37 pm

Nice moving of the goal posts, Finn. According your your last statement, we could only hire people for President who have actually run a country before.

Kinda limits the prospective nominees and violates the Constitution as well, but when have facts ever stopped you from posting?

Epic, epic, fail, son.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
2:38 pm

@Towncrier…”if his campaigns decision to focus on Big Bird a month out from the election and after being trounced in his first debate is any indication”

Yet who was it that held Big Bird up as part of of the solution… :roll:

So Obama should just let such drivel stand unchallenged

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:43 pm

Barry sings nightly to Michelle his rendition of that old Boston song, A Man I’ll never be, and soon he will be singing that same song to the US citizenry.

Kyle Wingfield

October 9th, 2012
2:43 pm

JDW: Strange, you are much more interested in these fact checkers’ conclusions when they aren’t criticizing the $5 trillion tax-cut figure that you and Obama keep repeating.

@@

October 9th, 2012
2:44 pm

I disagree with Romney’s love for Big Bird. Never cared for Big Bird.

Obama reminds me of Elmo.

Sesame Street staff writer Nancy Sans once described Elmo’s origins: “There was this extra red puppet lying around and the cast would pick him up sometimes and try to create a character, but nothing seemed to materialize.”

schnirt

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
2:45 pm

Now this is a rebuke:

the Atlantic reports the Republican governor of New Jersey is a Springsteen devotee who has attended 129 shows, some with state troopers in tow…The iconic singer…doesn’t want to hang as just two Jersey guys: out on the streets of Atlantic City or Asbury Park. Or anywhere at all. In fact, though they briefly met once or twice, Springsteen won’t even talk to his 49-year-old fan, Jeffrey Goldberg writes in the magazine. Silence can say it all. Here it says loud and clear that Christie is a force for a broken dreams and shattered lives in their shared state.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/jersey-boys/309019/

Oh, to see the look in Christy’s eyes as his hero tells him to get out of his dressing room……

Gimme Gimme Gimme

October 9th, 2012
2:45 pm

“Economy is improving, unemployment is still going down, companies are showing profits…..sounds like we got our guy in the WH already”

Economy is improving, unemployment is still going down, companies are showing profits…..sounds like we need to give thanks to Bernanke.

Fixed

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
2:46 pm

“Yet who was it that held Big Bird up as part of of the solution”

Uh, JDW? Romney used PBS as his example. Big Bird just happens to reside in that universe.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:48 pm

“the Atlantic reports the Republican governor of New Jersey is a Springsteen devotee”

Springsteen and his under-bite have been over-rated/over-hyped since 1977 and have done much of nothing since “Born to Run.” Too bad that wasnt his last album

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
2:49 pm

Nice moving of the goal posts, Finn.

Winter Olympics, LOL! In the middle of nowhere.

mwuahahahahahahahaha

Mitt is the Uber leader! Just don’t ask him for specifics….

Joe the Prophet

October 9th, 2012
2:49 pm

I’m not going to release my taxes, because they would put me in prison….and I’m not going to tell you what I would do with your taxes….BUT YOU CAN TRUST ME….I’M A CULTIST…!!!!

Linda

October 9th, 2012
2:51 pm

If Sesame thought Obama could win, they would not have said a word. They are merely hedging their future.

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
2:52 pm

“So Obama should just let such drivel stand unchallenged.”

It was a serious political miscalculation. It’s like criticizing a person for not cutting their lawn when the neighborhood is on fire.

Joe the Prophet

October 9th, 2012
2:53 pm

I’ve never actually met anyone on Medicare…and I’ve never actually met anyone on Social Security…and I’ve never actually met anyone on Title IX or Title X…and when people aren’t looking, I don’t care about these people…They are dependent on government….but hey…YOU CAN TRUST ME, I’M A CULTIST…!!!!!

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:53 pm

If Obama loses then Bruce StinkSteam will probably crawl in Clarence Clemons grave and commit Hari Kari. Now there is a WIN we could all apprecieate.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:54 pm

“It was a serious political miscalculation. It’s like criticizing a person for not cutting their lawn when the neighborhood is on fire.”

Its also like the Obama/Biden team rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic keeps sinking.

joe

October 9th, 2012
2:55 pm

instead of focusing on fantasy (big bird) obama should be focusing on things like Iran and radical islam. his candidacy is becoming a joke, just like his presidency.

Reasonable man

October 9th, 2012
2:55 pm

GOP complains about the deficit as if they don’t know what caused it – 1) undertaking wars in two countries 2) cutting taxes, while funding said wars, 3) stimulus to try to slow the train wreck that was our economy after 2 Bush terms. Yeah, we have a deficit and Willard wants to fix it with MORE TAX cuts and MORE WARS. It’s the GOP’s answer to any problem. Cut taxes, invade somebody. Oh, and take away a woman’s right to choose – almost forgot that one.

CFO

October 9th, 2012
2:57 pm

Willard makes money for his investors and he’ll make money for the Koch brothers, et al. The actual underlying businesses have a pretty mixed track record, but who cares, as long as the people at the top make money and Willard gets his cut.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
2:57 pm

If Sesame thought Obama could win, they would not have said a word. They are merely hedging their future.

No, PBS is run by humans who want to keep their jobs and the only reason they have jobs is because they are the only truly fair and balanced news source.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
3:00 pm

“The iconic singer…doesn’t want to hang as just two Jersey guys: out on the streets of Atlantic City or Asbury Park.”

And unlike liberals who fawn over singers and movie stars as if they actually matter, rather than just entertain, I don’t think Christie is losing any sleep over this.

@@

October 9th, 2012
3:03 pm

It’s not the first time Democrats have played on Sesame Street.

There was the petition asking PBS to arrange for Bert and Ernie’s marriage.

REJECTED!

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
3:05 pm

“GOP complains about the deficit as if they don’t know what caused it”

Actually, they DO know what caused it. They’ve already proven they can learn from their misakes. Obama and liberals? Not so much.

“Yeah, we have a deficit and Willard wants to fix it with MORE TAX cuts and MORE WARS.”

Really? Cite please. Tell us which wars Romney has already declared in his campaign positions. Then tell us which tax cuts aren’t being paid for by cuts in spending and/or eliminations of deductions.

@@

October 9th, 2012
3:05 pm

Guess who

RE-JECTED!

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

October 9th, 2012
3:05 pm

After the massive deluge of information burst forth from the Mittster and swamped the clueless and bewildered obozo, does anyone else find it rather comical that the one thing the dummycrats choose to get specific about is a children’s puppet show?

They were probably switching between the debate and Sesame St and they were like yo, what does that mean, cut funding?

Reasonable man

October 9th, 2012
3:05 pm

Tiber – I guess the GOPers didn’t fawn all over Clint, Arnold, Reagan, Willis and all the other washed up celebs who support their side. The main difference between the parties on the subject of celeb worship is that those on the D side are much cooler. Now, go hang out with Hank Williams Jr.

rwcole

October 9th, 2012
3:08 pm

If the number isn’t $5 Trillion, then what is the number, Kyle? Romney wants to cut the tax rate by 20% and not increase the deficit. What is the number that fills that blank. You and Romney are saying that figure is wrong so, pretty please, with sugar on top, what is the correct $ figure to insert here?? And how do you pay for it w/out increasing the deficit. Mortgage interest deduction is my guess but Republicans won’t just say it out loud.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
3:09 pm

” that those on the D side are much cooler”

Thats all fine and well and cool, however, Im more interested in having a President who is intelligent and uncool than a President who can play a saxophone or break dance and who want to make “govt cool again.”

When was govt ever cool?

JDW

October 9th, 2012
3:10 pm

@Tiberius…”Actually, they DO know what caused it. They’ve already proven they can learn from their misakes. ”

And thats why they are leading with a $5 trillion dollar tax cut and empty promises to reduce spending…o’ wait…THAT IS WHAT THEY DID BEFORE….NO WAY

:roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
3:10 pm

“reasonable man”, you DO realize that Reagan was a successful governor of California don’t you?

Of course you didn’t!

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
3:12 pm

rwcole, did you even bother to watch the debate?

Find it online and come back here once you’ve LISTENED to it in it’s entirety.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
3:12 pm

@Tibeius…”Uh, JDW? Romney used PBS as his example.”

and I quote…”I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it”

Please note the words “Big Bird”…psssssttt…I didn’t have to go far…check Kyle’s piece.

Linda

October 9th, 2012
3:12 pm

Let’s see if Romney will release more of his tax returns if Obama will release his:

Passport records, Obama kindergarten records, Punahou School records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, University of Chicago scholarly articles, Illinois State Bar Association records, Illinois State Senate records/schedules(said to be lost), Medical records, Obama/Dunham marriage license, Obama/Dunham divorce documents, Soetoro/Dunham marriage license, Adoption records and of course the long-form Certificate of Live Birth.

These are the documents that Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his Cold Case Posse, State Rep. Carl Seal & State Sen. Lori Klein listed when they discussed the bill to be introduced.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9fktwKCu50

May I also add that it would be helpful if Obama offered some type of explanation as to why his social security number was issued in Connecticut.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
3:14 pm

@Tiberius…”Then tell us which tax cuts aren’t being paid for by cuts in spending and/or eliminations of deductions”

See thats kind of the point…Romney has not mentioned EXACTLY HOW he will pay for his $5 trillion tax cut.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
3:16 pm

@Towncrier…”It was a serious political miscalculation. It’s like criticizing a person for not cutting their lawn when the neighborhood is on fire.”

I agree Romney should have never brought it up…Obama merely pointed out the miscalculation.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
3:18 pm

“See thats kind of the point…Romney has not mentioned EXACTLY HOW he will pay for his $5 trillion tax cut.”

And see, that’s kinda the point about his response during the debate, which you keep ignoring, JDW.

He doesn’t go in and try to dictate to the legislative branch – he listens to them and tries to work WITH them – unlike Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

He’s a LOT smarter than you, JDW.

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
3:20 pm

“I agree Romney should have never brought it up…Obama merely pointed out the miscalculation.”

Now you are just being silly.

@@

October 9th, 2012
3:20 pm

Too funny!

Obama Supporters: President Should Have Teleprompter At Debates

I’m sure Elmo has a script. Obama should too.

SCHNIRT

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 9th, 2012
3:22 pm

“Now you are just being silly.”

NOW, Towncrier? When JDW is not being silly he’s being ridiculous or disingenuous. That’s all he’s got.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 9th, 2012
3:23 pm

Romney’s foreign policy speech on Monday was another example of his tendency to lie on minor stuff as well as weighty issues. For instance, he claimed that President Barack Obama “has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years” though Obama secured passage of agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama and signed them in October 2011.
http://www.alternet.org/world/big-foreign-policy-speech-romney-lies-entire-world

JDW

October 9th, 2012
3:24 pm

@Kyle, “they aren’t criticizing the $5 trillion tax-cut figure that you and Obama keep repeating.”

They seem to want to give Romney the doubt of smoke and mirrors…fact is, as they agree, Romeny wants to cut taxes by $5 trillion…what they point out is that he claims he will pay for that.

“To be clear, Romney has proposed cutting personal federal income tax rates across the board by 20 percent, in addition to extending the tax cuts enacted early in the Bush administration. He also proposes to eliminate the estate tax permanently, repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, and eliminate taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends for taxpayers making under $200,000 a year in adjusted gross income.

By themselves, those cuts would, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, lower federal tax liability by “about $480 billion in calendar year 2015” compared with current tax policy, with Bush cuts left in place. The Obama campaign has extrapolated that figure out over 10 years, coming up with a $5 trillion figure over a decade.

However, Romney always has said he planned to offset that massive cut with equally massive reductions in tax preferences to broaden the tax base, thus losing no revenue and not increasing the deficit. So to that extent, the president is incorrect: Romney is not proposing a $5 trillion reduction in taxes.”

http://factcheck.org/2012/10/dubious-denver-debate-declarations/

My point is that it is a $5 trillion dollar tax cut…even if he pays for it and makes it revenue neutral, which BTW won’t spur the growth he is claiming. The whole thing is a sham and it doesn’t add up…even if Romney claims it does.

Until he comes out with a specific way of paying for the decrease it remains a proposed $5 trillion tax cut.