— Bud Norman
The reviews are in, and the most panned political advertisement of the year is the one starring Sesame Street’s Big Bird character on behalf of the Obama campaign.
In addition to the massive amounts of ridicule being heaped on the ad by the conservative punditry, even such reliably pro-Obama media outlets as NBC, ABC, and Politico have all given it a rousing thumbs-down. Yet another rebuke, and one that will likely doom to the ad to a mercifully short run, was issued by the Sesame Street producers, who politely requested that their characters be left out of the political fray.
All of the criticisms, of course, are warranted. The spot opens with a montage of Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, and Dennis Kozlowski being hauled off in handcuffs for their notorious white collar crimes, then cuts to footage of Mitt Romney citing the sizeable subsidies to the lucrative Sesame Street franchise as an example of wasteful government spending. For the benefit of those wondering what one has to do with the other, a voice-over dripping with sarcasm helpfully explains that Romney “knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it’s Sesame Street.”
One hardly knows where to begin mocking such nonsense. Perhaps Romney isn’t spending much time on the campaign trail railing against Madoff, Lay, and Kozlowski, but that’s likely because they are all currently imprisoned for their long-ago and largely forgotten misdeeds, a point implicitly acknowledged by the ad’s images of their arrests, and few Americans outside the Obama headquarters still regard them as a pressing problem. We note that Obama has been conspicuously silent regarding Bruno Hauptmann, but we don’t take that as evidence that he’s soft on those who kidnap and murder the children of aviation heroes.
As for Romney’s alleged obsession with Big Bird, the Republican party’s word-counters have documented that Obama has invoked the character’s name far more often in recent days. More importantly, Romney has the better argument. Sesame Street’s vast licensing empire earns it huge amounts of money, as a visit to any toy store will immediately reveal, and it makes no sense for a nation $16 trillion in debt to throw it a few more bucks. Indeed, if not for the show’s mushy multi-culturalism and soft-headed emphasis on a fashionable notion of unearned self-esteem it would likely be reviled by the left as a crassly commercial creature of the hated 1 percent. Obama correctly notes that the show’s subsidies represent an almost infinitesimal portion of the budget, but that only bolsters Romney’s point that a president unwilling to make such a cut is hardly equipped to tackle the more politically difficult reforms needed to keep the country solvent.
— Bud Norman