During last night’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney attacked PBS generally, and Big Bird by name. It was a huge mistake.
We already knew that Mitt Romney likes to fire people. Sure, it’s a line he says was taken out of context, but it’s one of those lies that increasingly seems to have more than a kernel of truth.
And now we know that if elected president, Mitt Romney will fire Big Bird.
There’s been a growing sense of a certain callousness underlying Mitt Romney. The 47% video was the strongest indication, but even the way in which Romney treated debate moderator Jim Lehrer last night. It was push, calloused, insensitive, bullying.
It was the way someone acts who thinks awfully highly of themselves, and to paraphrase Ayn Rand, doesn’t think about others at all:
“Mr. Roark, we’re alone here. Why don’t you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us.”
“But I don’t think of you.”
But to me, Mitt Romney’s bigest mistake last night wasn’t bullying the moderator, or even lying about Medicare and health care reform. It was telling Jim Lehrer that he was basically going to fire the man – which again, seemed awfully calloused – but worse, that he was going to take down Big Bird.
“I’m sorry Jim. I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS,” Romney said, when asked by moderator Jim Lehrer what non-essential items he would trim from the federal budget. “I’m gonna stop other things,” Romney said. “I like PBS, I like Big Bird, I actually like you too.”
That’s the nice thing about being a bit of a misanthrope, you have no problem telling people to their face that you’re going to fire them if given the chance.
The response on Facebook was fast, furious, funny, and brutal.
Romney isn’t worried about the budget, trying to kill Big Bird has been a priority for Republicans back to the time of the Gingrich House in the 1990s. The far right that controls the Republican party thinks PBS is part of a lefty conspiracy that simply must be destroyed. If the Republicans can kill PBS, they can kill all the programming that goes along with it, like Sesame Street, like Big Bird. They quite literally think that Sesame Street and the like are indoctrinating our children to liberalism.
This isn’t about the budget. It’s about Mitt Romney pandering to the far right yet again.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a Fox News panel, hosted by Sean Hannity, attacking Big Bird and Sesame Street as a liberal conspiracy:
America has a lot of problems, but Big Bird isn’t one of them.
President Obama today added fuel to the fire, helping to ensure that this story isn’t going away any time soon:
“When he was asked what he would do to actually cut spending and reduce the deficit, he said he’d eliminate public television funding,” Obama said. “But I just want to make sure got this straight. He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street — but he’s going to crack down on Sesame Street.”
And to add insult to injury, little kids are now getting upset, and they’re writing letters. Here’s a letter from an eight-year-old girl, Cecilia Crawford, from Pike Road, Alabama, who watched the debate last night, and was not happy to hear what Mr. Romney has planned for Big Bird (via Huffington Post):
The fact that a presidential candidate, with limited time, during the most important debate of his life, in an era in which Americans are trying to figure out how to make ends meet to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, is worried about Big Bird, and mentions Big Bird by name, speaks volumes to the kind of man he really is and the president he’ll be.