Following that now infamous crack in this week’s presidential debate, many Americans have been giving Mitt Romney the bird. The big one. Big Bird.
Romney, of course, had indicated that his deficit-cutting plan started with cutting off aid to Sesame Street, name-checking Big Bird, the most beloved character. A few analysts pointed out the absurdity of highlighting a PBS budget cut, which would save taxpayers roughly .00000infinity. But left it at that.
Not so President Obama and his supporters. Obama, the next day—when he finally woke up and said a few things he’d fanned on the previous night—made some wise cracks to big crowds about Romney gunning for the Bird, and maybe Elmo ought to run, too.
Yes, it was a desperate attempt to make up for his debate flop—but it seemed to work. Media started covering it, and yesterday many photos of Obama backers showing up at rallies dressed as Big Bird appeared. It was fun, but with a sharp political edge, probably the best of all combinations today. Jon Stewart referred to the character as America’s “favorite non-fried bird.”
And, by now, there was a strong web meme going, with numerous images including (see above and below) Big Bird strapped to Romney’s car and Oscar the Grouch leading a guerrilla uprising against the Republicans. See more here.
Rick Santorum was reduced to telling a TV interviewer, ‘You can kill things and still like them.” He then referred to hunting. So: roast and eat Big Bird? This wasn’t helping Romney at all.
And here’s a NYT report that is almost–but not quite–laughable: "As Politico reported, ‘Most Americans think public broadcasting receives a much larger share of the federal budget than it actually does,’ according to a poll conducted for CNN last year. The results of that survey, which asked respondents to estimate what share of the federal budget was spent on certain programs, found that just 27 percent of Americans knew that the money for PBS and NPR was less than 1 percent of government spending. Remarkably, 40 percent guessed that the share was between 1 and 5 percent and 30 percent said it was in excess of 5 percent — including 7 percent who said that more than half of the federal budget was spent on television and radio broadcasts."
[[In other news, hear me talk about another amazing campaign—the highly influential 1934 governor’s race in California starring Upton Sinclair—on NPR’s “On the Media this week, related to my book, listen here.]]