After Mitt Romney took President Obama to the cleaners in the first presidential debate (so much so that Bill Maher said it looked like President Obama spent his $1 million Super PAC donation on weed), liberals needed to latch onto something. They found it: Big Bird. What kind of inhumane, heartless bastard would want to “kill” Big Bird? The answer is no one, but since we’re dealing with adults who act like Sesame Street watching toddlers, we get a false dichotomy — either the government funds PBS or Big Bird will cease to exist.
President Obama’s supporters think they have a winner with the death-to-Big-Bird rants, when in reality their temper tantrum makes it clear to independent voters that they are not up to handling the serious financial problems America faces.
First, let us look at Mark Steyn’s reaction to the affair:
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives nearly half a billion dollars a year from taxpayers, which it disburses to PBS stations, who in turn disburse it to Big Bird and Jim Lehrer. I don’t know what Big Bird gets, but, according to Senator Jim DeMint, the president of Sesame Workshop, Gary Knell, received in 2008 a salary of $956,513. In that sense, Big Bird and Senator Harry Reid embody the same mystifying phenomenon: They’ve been in “public service” their entire lives and have somehow wound up as multimillionaires. …
[W]hether or not everybody loves Sesame Street, everybody has seen it, and every American under 50 has been weaned on it. So far this century it’s sold nigh on a billion bucks’ worth of merchandising sales (that’s popular toys such as the Subsidize-Me-Elmo doll). If Sesame Street is not commercially viable, then nothing is, and we should just cut to the chase and bail out everything. …
If Americans can’t muster the will to make Big Bird leave the government nest, they certainly will never reform Medicare.
Now, let us look at the reaction of Charles Blow of the New York Times:
Since 1969, Big Bird has been the king of the block on “Sesame Street.” When I was a child, he and his friends taught me the alphabet and the colors and how to do simple math. …
Big Bird and his friends also showed me what it meant to resolve conflicts with kindness and accept people’s differences and look out for the less fortunate. Do you know anything about looking out for the less fortunate, Mr. Romney? …
Let me make it simple for you, Mr. Romney. I’m down with Big Bird. You pick on him, you answer to me. …
I don’t really expect Mitt Romney to understand the value of something like PBS to people, like me, who grew up in poor, rural areas and went to small schools. These are places with no museums or preschools or after-school educational programs. There wasn’t money for travel or to pay tutors.
I honestly don’t know where I would be in the world without PBS.
First of all, not a lot of people can “answer” to Charles Blow because he’s locked his Twitter account (an odd step for someone who writes for a major American newspaper). Charles is untouchable — kind of like Big Bird.
Steyn’s central argument is that Big Bird is worth big bucks. The makers of Sesame Street and the top brass at PBS have done quite well for themselves. Public Broadcasting is very lucrative for the guys in charge. The kind of content that PBS provides is at the touch of our fingers. It’s everywhere, and it’s cheap. And so the question becomes: Should the American taxpayer be subsidizing this? The answer is no. And if we can not even bring ourselves to let Big Bird leave the nest … is it any wonder why we have government-mandated health care that encourages children to stay on their parent’s medical coverage until they’re 26 years old?
Charles Blow’s piece, in contrast, is purely emotional. He “honestly doesn’t know” where he’d be without Sesame Street. That’s an incredibly sad admission, but if he’s honest about it, let’s examine the subject a little more closely.
Again, absent government funding, the content provided by Sesame Street would essentially still exist. Investors would buy the rights to Big Bird. (Even Mark Levin has said that he would do so.) The Sesame Street crew would end up on Nickelodeon or ABC family or any number of shows on basic cable. Sesame Street and its decades of glory are available on DVD, on Youtube, etc. Big Bird might even wind up in kiddie crossovers featuring Dora the Explorer and “Blue” from Blue’s Clues. Think of the possibilities, Charles!
The Vice Presidential debate is coming up. President Obama’s team is so desperate I wouldn’t be surprised if Joe Biden started harping on Big Bird just to keep the conversation going for another week. If he does, more power to him. It’s a debate us conservatives are more than happy to have. And guys like me don’t lock their Twitter account like Charles Blow, either.