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

Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter

481 comments Add your comment

Linda

October 9th, 2012
5:04 pm

Hillbilly@4:39, He’s already “dressed” & stuffed. Unfortunately, my oven’s not that big.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
5:05 pm

@Linda…let me introduce you to a basic fact of comparing numbers over time…NPV or Adjusting for Inflation….government receipts in 2005 constant dollars

2000 2,310.0
2001 2,215.3
2002 2,028.6
2003 1,901.1
2004 1,949.5
2005 2,153.6
2006 2,324.1
2007 2,414.0
2008 2,288.1

You will notice that receipts in 2008 are LESS than those of 2000. As you so clearly miss, the Bush tax cuts did not expand revenues in real dollars.

Gimme Gimme Gimme

October 9th, 2012
5:05 pm

You don’t understand Jammie, PBS wont be the only cut. Just one of the first!

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

October 9th, 2012
5:07 pm

“That would be the smoke part…from that bastion of “Liberal Thought” The Economist on Mitt’s plan”

Oh, so we’re supposed to take the opinion writings of a newspaper written in London for our cue on whether we are to support Mitt Romney’s actual plan, as opposed to – actually READING Mitt Romney’s actual plan, right JDW?

You’re right; we do travel in different circles. I travel in the one with people who have working brains.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
5:09 pm

@Tiberious…”I travel in the one with people who have working brains.”

Do you guys swap the one model back and forth or do you just gather round it every night… :roll:

Hillbilly D

October 9th, 2012
5:10 pm

I watch PBS all the time but I still don’t think it’s a function of government. Sure it’s a drop in the bucket but all those drops are what fill the bucket. I think all subsidies to all businesses should be cut. Let ‘em sink or swim on their own.

JamVet

October 9th, 2012
5:11 pm

Honey Boo Boo?

All I know is that she is on the “Learning Channel”!

The corporate privatization pigs devolved it into a for profit, child exploitation channel.

The Learning Channel was founded in 1972 by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and NASA as an informative/instructional network focused on providing real education through the medium of TV; it was distributed at no cost by NASA satellite. Then it was privatized (See Reaganism) in November 1980 and the name was changed to “The Learning Channel”, which was subsequently shortened to “TLC.”

Just how pathetic is corporate TV????

Gimme Gimme Gimme

October 9th, 2012
5:13 pm

“Just how pathetic is corporate TV????”

MSNBC is pretty bad.

td

October 9th, 2012
5:13 pm

JamVet

October 9th, 2012
5:04 pm

Y…Republican voters are on average way smarter then Democratic voters.

Well, td, you sure are bringing the GOP’s average down.

I would much rather be the dumbest person in the smartest group then be the biggest smart a$$ is the dumbest group. Oh that right, you are so far out side the main stream of American thought that you do not belong to either party. Anyone that would vote for Ralph Nader says all we need to know about intelligence levels.

@@

October 9th, 2012
5:15 pm

Hillbilly:

I was looking at AmVet’s long list and thought…..

HEY! I’m watching PBS

alot!!!!

Linda

October 9th, 2012
5:17 pm

JDW@5:05, Looky, looky! You got the same chart from the guberment likes me! And you done taking time to teach me a thingy or two.
Now, if I had tried to tell that guy about adjusting for inflation & real dollars, he would have thought I was from Mars.
Liberals think that cutting taxes cuts govt. revenues, dollar for dollar, & that is a flat out lie. Point made.
Over & out.

@@

October 9th, 2012
5:18 pm

And Hillbilly?

Were you ever able to catch Merle Haggard on “American Greats”?

Del

October 9th, 2012
5:18 pm

Don’t know about Big Bird but with most polls tipping seriously in Romney’s direction this could be the October surprise that will have some libs on this forum as well as Bookman’s eating crow in November.

td

October 9th, 2012
5:20 pm

JDW

October 9th, 2012
5:05 pm

@Linda…let me introduce you to a basic fact of comparing numbers over time…NPV or Adjusting for Inflation….government receipts in 2005 constant dollars

2000 2,310.0
2001 2,215.3
2002 2,028.6
2003 1,901.1
2004 1,949.5
2005 2,153.6
2006 2,324.1
2007 2,414.0
2008 2,288.1

You will notice that receipts in 2008 are LESS than those of 2000. As you so clearly miss, the Bush tax cuts did not expand revenues in real dollars.

All I can say is unbelievable. I know you libs are usually not very good with numbers since all you do is to use emotions but to miss one this bad. In 2007, revenues to the government reached its highest levels EVER. The economy contracted so that would naturally mean revenues would be down. Look at Georgia for an example, revenues were $22.6 billion in 2007 and went down to $17.6 billion in 2009.

Hillbilly D

October 9th, 2012
5:21 pm

@@

I missed that one. Maybe it’ll come back around again, sometime. I’ve had lots of irons in the fire, lately.

I watch all kinds of stuff. I even watch LinkTV on occasion. Once in a while they have something that interests me.

Linda

October 9th, 2012
5:22 pm

Romney’s a Christian & will apply the Golden Rule. If govt. supports PBS, then prop them all up. Put the cable & satellite companies out of business. Call the govt. when you need “service.”

jconservative

October 9th, 2012
5:23 pm

Kyle,

Our candidate just took 3 giant steps to the left. Couple more and he will be a certified card carrying Democrat. And you write about Big Bird.

Please!

@@

October 9th, 2012
5:23 pm

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:24 pm

The President’s Big Bird ad is hilarious.

He is using sarcasm to show Americans the romney campaign is a Big Joke and he is right.

The debate gave him ammunition for his stump speech and mitt running away from his tax plan is the focus.

JamVet

October 9th, 2012
5:25 pm

td, you and your imaginary “we” friends are cute.

Not particularly well written or interesting, but humorous.

So you’ve got that going for you.

A TAT, rhetorical question then. Why does Mitt Money Boo Boo want to make them go away?

Numerous programs like this, across a wide range of highly important topics, is why:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/money-power-wall-street/

New Mortgage Task Force Charges JPMorgan With “Systemic Fraud”

For nearly five years, federal regulators have struggled to successfully prosecute Wall Street banks or executives for alleged misconduct during the financial crisis. Now, time may be running out.

NO ONE in the corporate owned media (who use for free we the people’s airwaves) DARES provide information remotely similar to this. And that scares the hell out of the Titans of Malfeasance and Criminal Negligence.

They desperately need Honey Boo Boo fans, not an informed, engaged and empowered citizenry who dares stand up to them.

@@

October 9th, 2012
5:25 pm

I’ve had lots of irons in the fire, lately.

Branding season?

@@

October 9th, 2012
5:27 pm

AmVet:

PBS can function without the government’s help.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:27 pm

“Our candidate just took 3 giant steps to the left. Couple more and he will be a certified card carrying Democrat. And you write about Big Bird.

Please!”

Good point. At the end of this cycle mitt will be to the left of President Obama.

A Dem primary election, if you will.

Kyle Wingfield

October 9th, 2012
5:29 pm

JamVet @ 4:38: “you neocons want to eliminate PBS” (my emphasis)

Eliminate? Removing subsidies now equals “elimination”? I take it, then, that you want to “eliminate” the oil companies since they receive subsidies to which you object? In other words, if government doesn’t do it, it doesn’t happen. If government doesn’t fund it, it won’t exist.

Your phrasing — and don’t pretend it was accidental — represents the left’s fundamental problem as succinctly as it could be stated.

Linda

October 9th, 2012
5:29 pm

Disney & Mickey Mouse are suing the Obama adm. for discrimination.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:29 pm

@@,

Don’t cut billions for big oil and corporate welfare when they are making record profits but cut PBS makes sense to you?

Seriously?

Hillbilly D

October 9th, 2012
5:29 pm

Branding season?

Rustlin’ is not for me. (IWH)

Thanks for the Merle link. I’ve heard a lot of stories about him from people I knew who played in Nashville but I won’t repeat ‘em.

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
5:30 pm

“Eliminate? Removing subsidies now equals “elimination”? I take it, then, that you want to “eliminate” the oil companies since they receive subsidies to which you object? In other words, if government doesn’t do it, it doesn’t happen. If government doesn’t fund it, it won’t exist. Your phrasing — and don’t pretend it was accidental — represents the left’s fundamental problem as succinctly as it could be stated.”

Come on, Kyle, you know full well that the government should be underwriting and controlling everything. Haven’t you read 1984???

Kyle Wingfield

October 9th, 2012
5:33 pm

Oh, and @ 4:45 (sorry, I’ve been working on other things and am just getting caught up): “The slick guys on snake-oil lined Madison Avenue certainly don’t want ANY competition.”

“Madison Avenue” typically refers to the advertising industry. PBS doesn’t air advertising.

Even if you meant the TV industry, this makes no sense. PBS represented a significant amount of “competition” to the networks back when it was basically just ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS. There already are dozens, if not hundreds, of channels competing with one another now.

Clearly, my being away has left your argumentative skills very rusty…

td

October 9th, 2012
5:34 pm

For you libs that want to blame Obama’s debate defeat on Romney moving to the left either do not understand philosophy or are just trying to spin so move crap.

I was with Kyle and supported Newt in the primaries and thought Mitt was a moderate at best and a RINO. I listened to the debate very carefully and what I heard was Mitt talking more about Conservative principles and philosophy then any other Republican candidate since Reagan. I was pleasantly surprised and believe these are the principles he will govern by when elected..

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

October 9th, 2012
5:36 pm

“Your phrasing — and don’t pretend it was accidental — represents the left’s fundamental problem as succinctly as it could be stated.”

Precisely, Kyle!

Take a relatively small issue and blow it all out of proportion by doubling down on it and then lying about it.

It’s all they’ve got.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:36 pm

Kyle,

How much will cutting PBS save our government?

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
5:36 pm

“Clearly, my being away has left your argumentative skills very rusty…”

Your use of the word “rusty” implies a once pristine or good condition – which is very generous of you. I was thinking something more like “still undeveloped” would have been better.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:38 pm

td,

Is that what rush told you to think today?

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

October 9th, 2012
5:38 pm

“Clearly, my being away has left your argumentative skills very rusty…”

While many of us missed you, Kyle, AmVet’s argumentative skills have never really been up to par . . .

Unless being perpetually grouchy constitutes making an argument. :lol:

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

October 9th, 2012
5:39 pm

“How much will cutting PBS save our government?”

Doesn’t matter, getalife. It’s not a function of government.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:41 pm

Looks like you are in their heads JamVet.

Good job.

Just sayin…….

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:44 pm

“Doesn’t matter, getalife. It’s not a function of government.”

It does matter to compare to our President cutting billions to big oil welfare.

It is a losing argument and you know it.

Show some intellectual honesty for a change.

@@

October 9th, 2012
5:46 pm

Getalife:

Don’t cut billions for big oil and corporate welfare when they are making record profits but cut PBS makes sense to you?

Here’s your mission if you choose to accept it.

Go back and find ALL my comments on subsidies, loopholes and tax credits.

Then drag your sorry azz back under the weight.

(ISH)

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

October 9th, 2012
5:47 pm

“It does matter to compare to our President cutting billions to big oil welfare.”

Uh, getalife? Did you actually see the debate or listen to it?

Romney talked about getting rid of oil subsides as well, but it was part of an overall tax overhaul, not a means to stick it to some particular segment of business as Obama wants to do.

Show a little intelligence for a change.

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
5:47 pm

“Looks like you are in their heads JamVet.”

He, like you getalife, is an “easy target” when it comes to logical refutation. And that is why you two (and others like you) are relegated to “ankle biting” – because logical debate is beyond your ability. At least the tow of you have found some purpose on these blogs – even if it is just to provide background noise.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:47 pm

@@,

No.

Answer the question.

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
5:49 pm

“Here’s your mission if you choose to accept it. Go back and find ALL my comments on subsidies, loopholes and tax credits. Then drag your sorry azz back under the weight.”

ROFL. You are wasting your time by responding to getalife and posters of his ilk. You might as well debate your dog, as responsive as they will prove to be.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:49 pm

towncrier,

Your logic makes no sense.

Perhaps you should try common sense for a change.

“How much will cutting PBS save our government?”

Kyle Wingfield

October 9th, 2012
5:50 pm

jconservative: Ahem. If I remember correctly, you said you voted for Romney in the primary specifically because you thought he could pull the moderate, independent votes needed to beat Obama. Which was a fair enough point. But how else did you expect him to pull those votes?

@@

October 9th, 2012
5:51 pm

Getalife:

You lazy!

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
5:51 pm

I’m out. Good night all.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:52 pm

“Romney talked about getting rid of oil subsides as well:

Liar, read the transcrpt of the debate for proof.

He said it went to small oil companies and that is a blatant lie.

At least you know cutting PBS is a loser.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:53 pm

@@,

You are dodger.

It is a losing argument.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
5:54 pm

Towncrier ,

Cut and run?

Come on, bring that logic.

Too early to go to bed.