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

bloomberg troll

October 9th, 2012
1:11 pm

The obama campaign is impossible to take seriously. No serious discussion of the facts, no detailed or even high level solutions to our economic problems.

They also got rebuked from abusing Andrea Mitchell video in an ad.

The Obama Bubble is bursting.

Hillbilly D

October 9th, 2012
1:12 pm

Big Bird has spoken, evidently.

bloomberg troll

October 9th, 2012
1:15 pm

As POLITICO reported Saturday, NBC News sent a letter to Obama campaign manager Jim Messina last week asking the campaign to stop using network footage in a new 30-second spot, released shortly after Wednesday’s debate, in which Andrea Mitchell is shown on air citing an independent analysis that Mitt Romney’s tax plan would cost $4.8 trillion over 10 years.

Mitchell addressed that complaint on her MSNBC program today, but added that the Obama campaign omitted portions of the clip in which she “pointed out exaggerations and/or misstatements” made by President Barack Obama.

“Some viewers might be understandably confused by the fact that the Obama campaign is airing a commercial right now including a video clip of me fact-checking Gov. Romney after last week’s debate,” Mitchell said. “You should know that NBC News has not granted either campaign permission to use our news material and immediately requested that the campaign refrain from using NBC News material in this and future advertisements.”

http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/10/mitchell-shames-obama-camp-over-footage-137799.html

bloomberg troll

October 9th, 2012
1:17 pm

“You should know that NBC News has not granted either campaign permission to use our news material and immediately requested that the campaign refrain from using NBC News material in this and future advertisements.”

We know Obama plays fast and loose with the law (or ignores it all together).

And here is another example. Intellectual Property rights get abused by China, but you wouldn’t expect the US President to do it…..

iggy

October 9th, 2012
1:23 pm

Im surprised Oblunder doesnt force Big Bird to wear a burqua.

Class of '98

October 9th, 2012
1:27 pm

Even as a die-hard conservative, I see no problem with PBS subsidies. It’s a drop in the ocean of debt.

I can’t wait for the VP debate tomorrow or the second presidential debate. I expect things to only get better for the Republican ticket.

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
1:27 pm

“The Obama campaign decided to make an issue, albeit a fairly minor one, out of saving Big Bird.”

I am still amazed at this colossal miscalculation. I almost suspect this might hurt Obama more than even his tepid debate performance. At a time when he REALLY needs to appear presidential, he is talking about Big Bird rather than how to deal with the EXTREMELY serious issue of us being 16T in debt when the ME may be collapsing and Europe is in very dangerous economic straits.

john

October 9th, 2012
1:34 pm

This is one of the worst angles I have ever seen a writer take? Obviously, Sesamee Street does not want to piss off either side because children of both democrats and republicans watch their show. Moreover, brands like Sesame Street do not want their names to be associated with politics in general. It’s standard practice. You know as well as I Kyle, that companies and brands intentionally stay nuetral when it comes to politics. Your attempt to say Big bird has rejected Obama, just shows how much you are reaching to find a way to bash Obama.

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
1:37 pm

“Your attempt to say Big bird has rejected Obama, just shows how much you are reaching to find a way to bash Obama.”

You are missing Kyle’s real point – which even liberals in the media understand:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/10/09/media-Backlash-Against-Big-Bird-Ad

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 9th, 2012
1:37 pm

Class of 98

The ocean is composed of drops. Enough drops and you have a sizable proposal. The Libs always use this excuse to do nothing. Why stop foreign aid to countries that are working to oppose us, it is just a small insignificant portion of the budget. Why not do away with the inefficient Dept of Energy, why bother it is just a very small agency with a minimum budget.

If it is not an essential function of government it should be on the chopping block when you have a 16.2 T debt. If PBS needs to run one more telethon per year to survive, let them do it, put my $1.35 toward paying off the debt.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 9th, 2012
1:39 pm

sizable puddle rather than proposal.

Gravy Train

October 9th, 2012
1:46 pm

Big Bird and Sesame Street may be fine financially. However, they choose to broadcast their show on Public Broadcasting Service. PBS is who gets the funds, not Big Bird. Kyle is doing his best, albeit weak, attempt to be the party lap dog. Keep your nose to the rear, uh, I meant grindstone, Kyle.

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

October 9th, 2012
1:49 pm

The ocean is composed of drops.

Republicans can only concern themselves with the drops cause they don’t have the stones to address the tidal waves.

The entire Republican platform is about gutting social security but, ya know, most Americans really like that program.

Show us what you got Cons.

Had Romney had the stuff to confront one of the major issues, Obama camp wouldn’t have any qualms about creating ads about that. instead, we get PBS which costs $1.35 per person. If the Cons can’t get serious, why should Obama not rag on that?

Linda

October 9th, 2012
1:52 pm

Looks like some feathers were ruffled & a Big Bird was shot toward Washington.
Yellow Bird versus White House.
Sesame Workshop echoed the AARP.

Junior Samples

October 9th, 2012
1:55 pm

Ok, we stop subsidizing PBS since they’re a merchandising powerhouse. How about ending the oil subsidies as well?

As it’s been mentioned several times before, Government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers. As people criticize the Solyndra investment, let’s level the playing field. No subsidies to oil and let the market decide. That should help reduce the deficit much faster than cutting off Public Television.

Right?

Linda

October 9th, 2012
1:56 pm

Ambassador Stevens begged the Obama Adm. for more security. Maybe he should have claimed that Big Bird was at the embassy in Benghazi.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
1:56 pm

Welcome back Kyle…I see from this one you are a bit jet lagged.

The real point is that Romney is trying to solve large problems with small thinking, reserving his “big guns for big tax cuts”. As I said earlier he did a great job making a bad story sound palatable…of course he had to lie to do it.

For example…”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. ”

First off that is a huge flip or is it a flop from his heretofore position, but since he mentions Dodd Frank… not so much as CNN points out

“The argument that some people make is that designating the biggest banks as “systemically important financial institutions,” as Dodd-Frank requires, makes it much cheaper for them to borrow, since no one thinks the government will allow them to fail. The result is higher profits and a big advantage that will allow the mega banks to run everyone else out of town. But it doesn’t appear to be turning out that way.”

http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2012/10/04/obama-romney-debate-dodd-frank/

And as you well know this is flat out false…”from a candidate who has presided over four consecutive $1,000,000,000,000-plus deficits” The first and the one that set the bar came courtesy of the Republicans and Duhbya…Obama has reduced the run rate which is a far cry from having caused it.

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
1:58 pm

“The real point is that Romney is trying to solve large problems with small thinking, reserving his “big guns for big tax cuts”. As I said earlier he did a great job making a bad story sound palatable…of course he had to lie to do it.”

I would say that the “real point” is that Romney actually has considerable experience at operating in the black. Obama still, to this day, has none (except perhaps in his own finances).

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

October 9th, 2012
1:59 pm

but Obama suddenly has to do more than tread water if he’s going to win.

Very telling statement, isn’t it?

Gravy Train

October 9th, 2012
2:00 pm

I wonder if certain senior citizens know that there are programs and services available to them to address a whole litany of issues ranging from alcoholism to paranoid delusions or xenophobia. I wonder if dementia limits the effectiveness of treatment. Do they even realize that the puppet shows they watch exacerbate their mental deterioration?

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

October 9th, 2012
2:02 pm

Do you Cons even know what percentage of our debt is owned by China? It’s like $.08 cents of every dollar. While China is the largest nation state owning us, it’s by far the biggest owner.

About 32 cents for every dollar of U.S. debt, or $4.6 trillion, is owned by the federal government in trust funds, for Social Security and other programs such as retirement accounts, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The largest portion of U.S. debt, 68 cents for every dollar or about $10 trillion, is owned by individual investors, corporations, state and local governments and, yes, even foreign governments such as China that hold Treasury bills, notes and bonds.

http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/moneymatters/ss/How-Much-US-Debt-Does-China-Own.htm

Junior Samples

October 9th, 2012
2:02 pm

To elaborate on Gravy Train’s statement, it’s the local affiliate’s that get the funding.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:03 pm

The outcome has yet to be determined but I must say this latest OBlunder thrashing certainly brings a smile to my face and its good to laugh.

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

October 9th, 2012
2:04 pm

Romney actually has considerable experience at operating in the black.

Racist!…just kidding!

Honestly, we’re not in the black. We’re in the red.

JDW

October 9th, 2012
2:05 pm

@Towncrier…”I would say that the “real point” is that Romney actually has considerable experience at operating in the black”

As skills that make good presidents go that one is….shall we say lacking.

The list of successful businessmen that have been president consists of Warren G. Harding (an Ohio newspaper publisher and editor) and Herbert Hoo­ver (a multi-millionaire mining engineer, investor, and consultant). Some want to add Carter but I think he was more of a “Gentleman Farmer”

Not real impressive company anyway you cut it.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/09/mitt-romney-business-credentials-problem

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:05 pm

And Obamas Green initiatives have pushed us further into the red.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:08 pm

Obama is an Economic Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Linda

October 9th, 2012
2:09 pm

The govt. does not always pick winners & losers. Obama picks losers.

Romney’s America:
AMC Entertainment – Success
Burger King – Success
Burlington Coat Factory – Success
Clear Channel Communications – Success
Dominos Pizza – Success
Dunkin Donuts – Success
Guitar Center – Success
The Sports Authority – Success
Staples – Success
Toys “R” Us – Success
Warner Music Group – Success
Romney invested private dollars in all of these companies.

Obama’s America:
Solyndra – BANKRUPT
Ener 1 – BANKRUPT
Beacon Power – BANKRUPT
Abound Solar – BANKRUPT
Amonix Solar – BANKRUPT
Spectra Watt – BANKRUPT
Eastern Energy – BANKRUPT
Fisker Automotive – BANKRUPT
Tesla Morors – BANKRUPT
Obama has invested 35 BILLION of our hard earned tax dollars in these failed companies

Del

October 9th, 2012
2:09 pm

So, Big Bird is giving the Obama campaign the “bird”. This pathetic desperation we’re seeing since the debates and Romney’s rise in the polls would be laughable if it wasn’t so seriously important that this incompetent can’t be allowed another four years.

Kyle Wingfield

October 9th, 2012
2:09 pm

Junior: And if those locals (and national PBS for that matter) are producing other programming as well-received as Sesame Street, then, like Sesame Street, they ought to be able to survive just fine, too.

carlosgvv

October 9th, 2012
2:10 pm

“mockery of mockery”

And yet, Mitt Romney, who has zigged and zagged and done countless 180’s, making a complete mockery of what honest politics should be, enjoys your complete support.

Kyle Wingfield

October 9th, 2012
2:10 pm

The “they” in “they ought to be able…” is a rather poorly phrased reference to “other programming.” Sorry. I’ll blame jet lag.

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

October 9th, 2012
2:10 pm

”I would say that the “real point” is that Romney actually has considerable experience at operating in the black”

So we need a guy who runs the show really well when everything is fine and dandy? Sorry, but that isn’t our current state. I would much rather have a guy who can run things when the chips are down.

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

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

October 9th, 2012
2:11 pm

The first thing I thought about this morning when the ad was played on MSNBC’s ‘Way Too Early’ was, “I’ll bet Sesame Street doesn’t like being used in this way”.

Right again.

It’s a curse, but I live with it. ;)

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

October 9th, 2012
2:12 pm

“The entire Republican platform is about gutting social security but, ya know, most Americans really like that program.”

Hyperbole and inaccuracy much, Finn? :roll:

Road Scholar

October 9th, 2012
2:13 pm

So you cons, esp those who scream “term limits” will have no problem with eliminating funding for retirement for Congress, healthcare for Congress, their health club, etc? Is that really necessary? Oil subsidies.. I mean let the free market roll? Agricultural subsidies?

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

October 9th, 2012
2:14 pm

Sesame Street does well. But what about the Ken Burns stuff? Who is going to support stuff like that? How about American Experience?

The Civil War Ken Burns series didn’t sell a lot of merchandise but I think we are a better place for having it than not having it and saving my $1.35.

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

October 9th, 2012
2:16 pm

“No subsidies to oil and let the market decide.”

In case you missed it, Junior Samples (what am I saying? You miss lots of cogent points) Romney covered this every well during the debate.

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

October 9th, 2012
2:19 pm

“But what about the Ken Burns stuff? Who is going to support stuff like that? How about American Experience?”

And just what part of the U.S. Constitution does it say that government has a responsibility to subsidize filmmakers, Finn? Why can’t Ken Burns ply his trade without my money?

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
2:19 pm

“As skills that make good presidents go that one is….shall we say lacking. ”

I guess what I was saying is that I believe Romney at least comprehends the seriousness of being 16T in debt, whereas I am totally unconvinced that Obama does (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).

Charles

October 9th, 2012
2:19 pm

Cookie Monster on their diapers? Ewwwwwww.

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

October 9th, 2012
2:21 pm

“So we need a guy who runs the show really well when everything is fine and dandy? Sorry, but that isn’t our current state. I would much rather have a guy who can run things when the chips are down.”

Please look up: Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City for your answer, Finn.

Thanks for playing and failing.

MarkV

October 9th, 2012
2:21 pm

Kyle has invented a rebuke, where there was none. Sesame Street Workshop merely stated its non-partisan position. If Romney can use Sesame Street in a political argument, so can Obama.

@@

October 9th, 2012
2:24 pm

What do you expect?

Obama’s still in knee-pants. It’s all a game to him.

AARP+Big Bird=2 rejections.

Obama makes way too many assumptions.

Towncrier

October 9th, 2012
2:24 pm

“And just what part of the U.S. Constitution does it say that government has a responsibility to subsidize filmmakers, Finn?”

Well, you see Tiberius, the Constitution is a “living document” that needs to be re-written by liberal SCOTUS justices rather than modified (as originally provided) by the Congress and States.

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

October 9th, 2012
2:25 pm

running the Olympics (the Winter Olympics at that!…and int he middle of nowhere!) is just like running a country?

#Fail, or, in Tiberius’ case, par for the course.

@@

October 9th, 2012
2:26 pm

Add to that Obama makes way too many assumptions

Too many liberties too.

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

October 9th, 2012
2:26 pm

obozo should be watching Sesame Street, maybe a few weeks of Big Bird training would wean him off the Prompter.

F. Sinkwich

October 9th, 2012
2:27 pm

“But what about the Ken Burns stuff? Who is going to support stuff like that? How about American Experience?”

Uh, History Channel? National Geographic Channel? Discover Channel? Biography Channel? Disney Channel?

Yep, without PBS subsidies, it all goes dark.

iggy

October 9th, 2012
2:27 pm

” I would much rather have a guy who can run things when the chips are down.”

Agreed and Oblunder just isnt the guy.