COMMENTARY | The Sesame Workshop is reportedly telling the campaigns of both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to quit using Sesame Street characters in their political discourse. According to The Ticket, the request came via a blog post from the Sesame Workshop, who stated it is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that doesn’t endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns.
It was Romney, at the recent debate in Denver, who initially thrust Big Bird into the fray by stating that, if elected president, he would cut funding for Big Bird to reduce the national deficit. But currently, the Obama campaign has a new ad featuring Big Bird and stating that Romney is tougher on Sesame Street than he is on Wall Street. I agree with the Sesame Workshop that both campaigns need to leave Big Bird and all of Sesame Street out of the discussion. Not only because the makers of Sesame Street didn’t ask to be tossed into this, but because Sesame Street doesn’t have anything to do with the deficit.
To be sure, I found Romney’s statement about cutting funding to PBS and Big Bird to be the worst remark he made on an evening when he actually made a lot of good points. Saying we’re going to reduce the deficit by decreasing funding to PBS is about like saying that, by moving a single rock, a whole mountain is well on its way to being moved. We could cut funding to PBS or we could double it and it really wouldn’t make much of a difference in terms of the deficit one way or another. Romney could have mentioned so many things in order to make a point about the deficit. He could have brought up how much we spend on foreign aid, for example. He could have talked about fraud in federal programs, multiple federal programs that are trying to accomplish the same goals, and a hundred other things. But Big Bird? Please.
On the other hand, the fact that the left jumped on the Big Bird comment and used a character from a children’s program as part of an attack campaign shows a bit of desperation. Once again, there are so many things the Obama campaign could use against Romney. In spite of Romney having a good night in Denver, it wasn’t a perfect night by any stretch. And further, Obama could have played up the jobs report and continued to focus on positives rather than dragging the Bird through the dirt in a statement that seemed to say little more than “At least I don’t want to defund Big Bird.”
The nonsense argument about Big Bird ranks right up there with the Chick-fil-A ordeal and the Susan G. Komen vs. Planned Parenthood ordeal. It’s politics by distraction; a matter of getting everyone in a sidetracked uproar so that we don’t stop to think about what’s really going on, or how bad things really are, or what questions we’d really like these people to answer.