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

ragnar danneskjold

October 9th, 2012
10:21 pm

Taranto: “Just got an Obama campaign email offering “training” in “how to talk about the issues.” These people are beyond parody.”

iggy

October 9th, 2012
10:22 pm

Perhaps like Caligula, Obama will attempt to appoint his horse, Michelle, to the Senate.

Linda

October 9th, 2012
10:23 pm

mike (with a little m)@10:01, Do you know how much money the fed. govt. would save if there was a law that laws could not be passed that involved billions, let alone trillions of dollars? If we had a law that laws could only be passed that involve millions or mere thousands, we could divert our path away from mass destruction.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
10:23 pm

@Linda…what’s relevant is the man is a fruitcake and frankly so are you. T

here is an actual Executive Team that runs Westgate and will work through the issues. Fact is like many real estate companies Westgate over extended themselves but you can rest assured that the professional management in charge will not lay people off as a result of elections. They will make informed business decisions based on demand and available resources.

@@

October 9th, 2012
10:23 pm

So I’ve been contemplating what Ryan’s approach to Biden should be. I wouldn’t go the attack route.

How about “Seriously, Joe.” OR “Seriously, Joe?”

Linda

October 9th, 2012
10:26 pm

iggy@10:01, We’re not supposed to say this out loud.

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

October 9th, 2012
10:27 pm

On the conference call convened by aides in Denver and Chicago even as the candidates were still on stage, there was no debate in the Obama campaign about the debate. None of the advisers fooled themselves into thinking it was anything but a disaster. Instead, they scrambled for ways to recover. They resolved to go after Mr. Romney with a post-debate assault on his truthfulness. Ad makers were ordered to work all night to produce an attack ad. And they would seize on Mr. Romney’s vow to cut financing for Big Bird. – NY Times

Which, of course, is something your average dummycrat can understand.

uh, cookie monster, duh.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
10:27 pm

Hmmm…Ryan should provoke Biden cuz the VP is spoiling for a fight. Joe wants to come to the rescue for Obama. Let Ryan lay back, play daddyCool, get Joe all redFaced then move in for the kill.

“Elementary My Dear Watson.”

@@

October 9th, 2012
10:28 pm

“Seriously, Joe…how can you be out there ranting about corporations, when this is taking place in your state?”

How Delaware Thrives as a Corporate Tax Haven

schnirt

iggy

October 9th, 2012
10:30 pm

True Linda, however, Obama has his “one world govt” leanings and believes the USA, and other industrial “rich” nations should be taxed to the “nth” degree in order to support Zimbawbwe and/or other suicidal hell holes.

RW-(the original)

October 9th, 2012
10:30 pm

How about “Seriously, Joe.” OR “Seriously, Joe?”

Or…”Wow Joe, I know you’ve been a DC insider since shortly after the founding, but that really isn’t what I think they meant”

ODD OWL

October 9th, 2012
10:34 pm

Fox Fantasy News and CNN, the cable narrative news network continue ask the question; Why the banks will not loan busineses, especially small businesses money so they can expand their businesses, buy new equipment and hire a litney of workers to service all of those customers ??? If you listen to Fox and CNN, they would have you believe that customers must wait in long lines at every store they patronize because the businesses simply cannot get bank loans to hire new workers… Someone need to pull the coattails of Fox and CNN and tell them that the only reason businesses are not expanding, buying new equipment and hiring new workers is because businesses don’t have any customers… The Federal and state Governments must provide some stimulus money for the customers, so they can buy stuff and spur economic growth…

@@

October 9th, 2012
10:36 pm

OR…”Seriously, Joe…shouldn’t you put a plug in that tax haven or are you too plugged in to the haven?”

@@

October 9th, 2012
10:36 pm

Hi, RW.

(ISH)

iggy

October 9th, 2012
10:37 pm

Dan Fogelberg/Tim Wiesberg – Twin Sons of Differnt Mothers? I THINK NOT!!
Jimmy Carter/Barack Obama – Twins Sons of Different Mothers? Absolutely!!

getalife

October 9th, 2012
10:39 pm

The headline at drudge is Big Bird.

America is laughing at mitt.

mitt is too weak to be President. Period.

jconservative

October 9th, 2012
10:39 pm

Kyle at 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?”

1. You remember correctly.

2. By remaining a conservative. By offering a choice. Why change if we replace one liberal with another? Romney spent 4 years creating a conservative agenda. In the last 10 days he has completely rejected that agenda. How will he govern?

His foreign policy speech the other day could have been written by Obama’s speechwriter. His remarks in the debate sound like Obama speeches over the years.

How do you expect him to win? Do you believe it is necessary to move to the left to beat Obama?

JamVet

October 9th, 2012
10:44 pm

Lil BB, if I provide five irrefutable examples of subsidies to major American corporations (which would take about five minutes of my time), will you acknowledge to this forum that you are a play stupid to perfection troll?

No?

How about ten?

md

October 9th, 2012
10:44 pm

Pretty interesting when your own State Dept tries to distance itself from your administration…….sounds like someone is saying hell no, you aren’t going to point that finger at me…..

getalife

October 9th, 2012
10:45 pm

Joe is a pit bull angry about what has happened to the middle class.

It will be the best debate.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
10:47 pm

md,

The gop congress cut their funding. The finger points to the gop congress.

RW-(the original)

October 9th, 2012
10:47 pm

Hi @@

(ISH)

Is Semper looking?

(IW&SH)

iggy

October 9th, 2012
10:48 pm

“Joe is a pit bull angry about what has happened to the middle class.”

Especially over the most recent 4 years.

Linda

October 9th, 2012
10:48 pm

JDW@10:23, What’s wrong with fruitcake? Some people love it!
Your comment was a little garbled. I understand. It’s late & you are desperate, the liberal you are.
Again, you claim relevance. It’s irrelevant that the company over-extended.
The facts are exactly what Siegel stated in his letter. Companies will be forced to lay off employees if Obama is re-elected & if his policies are allowed to stand.
Your line of demand is a liberal fairy tale & has no bearing in the real world of economics, for which I have a degree.

md

October 9th, 2012
10:49 pm

“The Federal and state Governments must provide some stimulus money for the customers, so they can buy stuff and spur economic growth…”

Now make up your mind, are we keeping the tax cuts or not??

A tax cut is a stimulus plan that skips the middleman………the gov’t.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
10:51 pm

“Especially over the most recent 4 years.”

Yeah, ryan’s voting record will show it was a mistake to pick ryan.

This guy voted to end SS and Medicare.

mitt’s decision skills are awful.

md

October 9th, 2012
10:52 pm

“The gop congress cut their funding. The finger points to the gop congress.”

Yeh, I’ve heard that weenie argument……and if that was the case, a good manager would know how to reallocate resources. Pull a few marines out of the hotspots like Paris and London and put them in Benghazi……

getalife

October 9th, 2012
10:53 pm

Then ryan voted no on another middle class tax cut.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
10:55 pm

md,

Iraq and Afghanistan remember.

The war in Libya was over.

That dog don’t hunt md.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
10:55 pm

Doesnt matter. Obama must go.

JamVet

October 9th, 2012
10:56 pm

Fogelberg was awesome.

A powerful voice for the antiwar, environmental and other liberals causes.He was solidly pro-worker, pro-Democratic Party, pro-children and pro-middle class.

He raised nearly $50,000 from his appearance for Democrat Bruce Babbitt’s 1982 gubernatorial re-election campaign in Arizona.

The anti-Republican.

I’m surprised igs ever even heard of him…

@@

October 9th, 2012
10:57 pm

Joe is a pit bull angry about what has happened to the middle class.

While allowing his state to shelter “the enemy” Getalife?

In these troubled economic times, when many states are desperate for tax dollars, Delaware stands out in sharp relief. The First State, land of DuPont, broiler chickens and, as it happens, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., increasingly resembles a freewheeling offshore haven, right on America’s shores. Officials in other states complain that Delaware’s cozy corporate setup robs their states of billions of tax dollars.

I

don’t

think

so.

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

October 9th, 2012
10:57 pm

I’m pretty sure that it is dawning on the dummycrat party apparatchik that o’biden will most likely look the fool come tomorrow night. Then what? Will they screech that Ryan lied? That he cheated?

Are you that stupid?

getalife

October 9th, 2012
10:59 pm

“PELOSI: It’s also important to note that the Republican appropriation in Congress gave the administration $300 million less than it asked for for the State Department, including funding for security. ”

Busted.

Linda

October 9th, 2012
11:00 pm

iggy@10:30, You are my new best friend. The truth will come out one day, but it might be too late. Isn’t it funny that Jarrett has been grooming both of them for over 20 years & has her own Secret Service detail? Wonder how Soros plays into this scenario. Inquiring minds want to know.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
11:01 pm

” Will they screech that Ryan lied? That he cheated?”

Nah, corporate media will fixate on something Joe said and call it a gaffe.

They are on your team.

You know that.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
11:02 pm

@@,

They bring State revenue.

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

October 9th, 2012
11:03 pm

Every thing o’biden says will be a “gaffe.”

hahahaha

getalife

October 9th, 2012
11:04 pm

Linda,

Jarrett, Soros, tin foil hat much?

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

October 9th, 2012
11:05 pm

Did y’all poke some eyeholes in your paper bags? This coming ass whoopin is something you don’t want to miss.

Historical.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
11:05 pm

Gimme Gimme Gimme

October 9th, 2012
11:05 pm

“Joe is a pit bull angry about what has happened to the middle class.”

What happened was career politicians like Biden who have been warned that we needed to address some of these issues years ago.

Now the chickens have come home to roost.

getalife

October 9th, 2012
11:06 pm

Every thing o’biden says will be a “gaffe.”

Watch corporate media spin after the debate and they will find some words to call it a gaffe.

ODD OWL

October 9th, 2012
11:07 pm

Romney is to liberal for America… Vote O’bama…

getalife

October 9th, 2012
11:09 pm

If our President is so bad why do you have to lie and run away from your positions?

Why are the numbers so close?

If all that crap you say is true, you should be up by 30 points?

Are y’all lying to me?

Gimme Gimme Gimme

October 9th, 2012
11:11 pm

Thank goodness for Bernanke. At least he has aided the recovery while Obama went to fundraiser’s and golfed.

md

October 9th, 2012
11:13 pm

get…..we have a separate marine force for diplomatic missions……as I said, resource allocation……read the latest story about Secretary Charlene lamb denying those resources because she thought Stevens would be just hunky dorry because he had a “safe” room.

Someone needs to send her over there and let her hide in that room without security.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/09/us-libya-usa-idUSBRE89815N20121009

getalife

October 9th, 2012
11:14 pm

Bernanke is your friend now?

Unemployment is his responsibility and when congress can’t pass a jobs bill he is left with one choice.

Qe1, 2,3,. gop built that.

Gimme Gimme Gimme

October 9th, 2012
11:15 pm

Obama “you didn’t build that”

getalife

October 9th, 2012
11:16 pm

md,

I watched that tea party pol squirm with that answer on cnn.

Way to hold your accountable md.