Confirmed: Big Bird ad a flop across the entire political spectrum

posted at 11:21 am on October 10, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Put this another way.  When your campaign strategy loses Matt Lauer, Chris Matthews Bob Shrum, and earns four Pinocchios from the Washington Post, where exactly does that leave you?  In a fine, feathered mess, that’s where.  Lauer interviewed Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs this morning on Today, and asked, “Is that the kind of political ad that a campaign releases when it feels that it has ideas and solutions on its side, or is that the kind of political ad a campaign releases when it simply wants to get attention?”  As if on cue, Gibbs insists that Mitt Romney declared “war on Sesame Street”:

Well, I’d say Matt Lauer got his answer.  The Washington Post provided another one today, assigning the maximum number of Pinocchios to the argument Gibbs amplified from the ad:

But in any case, Romney clearly said that he loves Big Bird, not that he wants to kill it. And even if he eliminated public funding for PBS, how would that affect Sesame Street, where Big Bird resides?

Not much. The 2009 financial disclosure from Sesame Workshop, the company that produces the program, shows that just $7.9 million came from government grants out of $130 million in total revenue, or about 6 percent.

The company also benefits from station program fees, some of which may come from federal dollars given to local PBS affiliates, which the company has suggested brings the percentage up to about 8 percent. The rest of the money comes from many corporate partners — as well as sales from those cute stuffed toys. …

How did “I love Big Bird” turn into “kill Big Bird”? Only through a spin machine going on hyper drive.

Romney may have been off base in suggesting PBS funding has much to do with the deficit, but that’s no excuse for the Obama campaign to declare that means the demise of a popular children’s character. According to the financials of Sesame Workshop, Big Bird should do just fine, with or without public funding.

Over on the Right, the Wall Street Journal agrees with Lauer, and calls the Big Bird ad a sign of a “small President”:

Having been routed in the first debate, President Obama has found a comeback strategy: Fly Big Bird. Specifically, mock Mitt Romney’s call to cut federal subsidies for the millionaires at the Sesame Workshop and pledge to defend the Public Broadcasting Service no matter how much money the Treasury has to borrow.

At least he’s finally discovered a second-term agenda. …

At the end of fiscal 2011, Sesame Workshop and its subsidiaries had total assets of $289 million. About $29 million was held in cash and “cash equivalents,” mainly money-market mutual funds. Another $121 million on the balance sheet was held in “investments.” According to the accompanying notes, these investments included stakes in hedge funds and private-equity funds. It’s unclear from the financial statements if Big Bird has ever invested in funds run by Bain Capital, founded by Mitt Romney, but no doubt Sesame would be welcomed as a client by many investment managers.

So Big Bird likes to maximize revenues and investment gains as much as the next muppet. And now the President has made this adorable critter the symbol of federal programs that allegedly require eternal taxpayer aid, even if it has to be put on the future tax bill of today’s pre-schoolers. Is that funny?

In this case, let’s give the last word to the Left.  Chris Matthews, who normally carries the White House water reliably, called the ad “Mickey Mouse” (via PJ Tatler and WFB):

Maybe it’s more like Wile E. Coyote … sooooper genius.  And when you’ve lost Bob Shrum …


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It would be awesome if he intentionally played them like that.

SailorMark on October 10, 2012 at 11:51 AM

I wouldn’t discount the possibility. Mitt is showing himself to be canny and clever in ways none of us could have forseen.

Right Mover on October 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM

This is really an insignificant point to raise over one sentence Romney made. The economy is going to hell in a handbasket and Obama is using precious political capital on this irrelevant crappola. Gibbs is well versed on all the intricacies of his master. After all, wasn’t it Obama at his 2008 DNC acceptance speech who said that if you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things. Well, Big Bird may not think this is a small thing, but I do.

timberline on October 10, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Yeah because being a marxist who is at the very least a Muslim sympathizer is small, but wanting to “kill” Big Bird is HUGE!!!

MobileVideoEngineer on October 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM

The flaws in the arguments of the left exposed by the Big Bird brouhaha are also analogous to those with Big Ed.

How often do we hear the Left demand that government provide more funding, more grants, and more student loans with lower interest rates so that more Americans can go to college?

All.Of.The.Time.

Since 1985, education inflation has skyrocketed by 498.49% compared to a rise of 114.85% in the CPI. According to The College Board, tuition has increased by 25% since the 2008-09 academic year alone.

Are students staging massive protests? Taking over campuses? Holding sit-ins?

No…instead they are told that lower interest rates on student loans are the way to go. Well, a lower interest rate on a much higher principal is still putting students behind the 8-ball.

There are a few “dirty, little secrets” that neither the government nor Big Ed tell students and parents:

1. Many universities, especially private schools and public schools with big athletic programmes, are sitting on HUGE assets. Harvard has an endowment fund that is worth around $25 billion. It could easily reduce tuition or increase scholarships, but it doesn’t.

2. Student loan debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. So, these kids are royally screwed before they ever receive their first “real” paycheque.

3. Government intervention in Big Ed is driving education inflation. Big Ed has no risk. It has no downside. It can continue to increase tuition knowing that the government is going to continue to entrap naive teenagers into “education servitude.” (I’m not a bleeding heart liberal, but I do believe in “informed consent” and punishment for those that engage in “misleading and deceptive trade practises,” including when it is the government).

So, in the end, the American taxpayer is subsidising the 1% in Big Ed, who, for the most part, are indoctrinating students while partnering with the government in enslaving them.

Resist We Much on October 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Just for example, lets say the roles were reversed and Romney put out a commercial with Big Bird? His political career would be over. Every major news outlet would be mocking him. They would play that commercial non stop until the election day. Obama does the same thing, it’s called a “stumble”. Of course, I am not saying anything that everyone in this forum doesn’t already know, but the depths of the medias bias still continues to amaze me.

bandutski on October 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM

O/T: Mitt speaking now in Ohio and plans to take questions from the audience.

Hope Hot Air can give us a separate thread on this later.

Right Mover on October 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Obama is using Big Bird to mock Romney because that’s what community organizers, rabble rousers, do. Then the bank or company that they’re harassing give them money to shut up. It’s called mau-mauing the flack catchers.

It won’t work in a real presidential race. But when all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

PattyJ on October 10, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I guess so Vegas rick

cmsinaz on October 10, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Glad mitt is doing town hall

Good practice

cmsinaz on October 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM

At the end of fiscal 2011, Sesame Workshop and its subsidiaries had total assets of $289 million.

So Sesame Street is worth more than the US government, which is $16T in debt.

Two hundred eighty nine million dollars…ah..ah….ah…!

~The Count

BobMbx on October 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM

I think it is also instructive to note that the President chose to gratuitously include footage of pit traders from the Minneapolis wheat pit in the Big Bird ad at the exact moment when the narrator says “Gluttons of Greed”. The Minneapolis wheat market is traded on a futures exchange that is closely monitored and regulated by the Federal government and is a perfect example of how markets can and should be used to allocate resources and risk using price discovery. By including this footage in the commercial (for whatever reason) and linking these traders with crooks like Bernie Madoff speaks volumes about this President’s contempt for free markets and their role in our economy.

Northside on October 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Mitt should say, “Look, in the past the arts were always funded by rich people because they had the extra income to spend on frills. I think rich people should STILL fund the arts with their disposable income. What I don’t think is that a portion of every paycheck from everyone, even those who make little money should be going to fund frills. The government should only take what it NEEDS to function. Let the rich people fund the extras, they have the money. But why should middle and low income families be forced to pay for frills with money from their paychecks and money that we have BORROWED that their children would have to pay back? Would you tell someone they should borrow money to pay the cable bill? Of course not you would tell them to drop cable until they can afford it. It is not a necessity. PBS is not a necessity. But it IS something that rich people can afford to fund. Let them do it.”

Lily on October 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM

I heard Big Bird’s secretary pays more in taxes than he does.

Flange on October 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Mitt is doing what he does. He’s a serous man for a serious job. Next debate is town hall… so he’s doing them now to warm up. Dude’s a winner.

Sugar Land on October 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM

I understand Obama’s confusion between loving Big Bird and killing Big Bird.

He probably loved his grandmother, but he is willing to let Grandmothers die to save medical costs. He just thinks Romney is thinking the same way about Big Bird.

osborn4 on October 10, 2012 at 12:23 PM

What a bunch of bumbling amateurs. I’m surprised McCain didn’t beat them.

Cicero43 on October 10, 2012 at 11:23 AM

McCain didn’t beat that bunch of bumblers because he is a bumbling amateur himself, and because the country was suffering a severe case of Bush fatigue. Nasty McAmnesty was just another Bush type Republican. Too many agreed we didn’t need another 4 years of that. It was just a shame that the only other option was Zer0. But, the GOP can only blame themselves for both situations.

Quartermaster on October 10, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Nobody died in BigBirdgate………

Benghazigate……mmmm, yep.

PappyD61 on October 10, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Prediction for POTUS Debate II:

Michelle gets hungry, Barry has to leave. Bubba takes over.

BobMbx on October 10, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Mitt is showing himself to be canny and clever in ways none of us could have forseen.

Right Mover on October 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM

I expected something like this. At least, I have anticipated that his passivity since the primaries might be a strategic move. I can’t say that I actually foresaw the current situation but I hoped for it.

I would say this. All his statements up until November 6th are designed to do one thing, which is to win the election. I see all sorts of gnashing of teeth by libertarians and conservatives over his “policy”.

If he wins, then he will have 2 and a half months to put his team in place and he will then have 2 years to start to make his program a reality. At the end of that time I expect to see something quite different from what one would expect from his campaign. I also expect it to be much more conservative than anyone (except the romney bots ;-) presently predicts.

It will not be another re-run of his governorship. He may even do better than Reagan. He certainly appears to have the ability to be in that class.

gh on October 10, 2012 at 12:31 PM

This is a perfect illustration of just how unserious the last four years have been. Let’s play their silly games for just a moment:

Democrats have engaged in:

- A war on inner city children who are imprisoned in a school system, brought about by their war on education.
- A war on people who drive vehicles with combustible engines, brought about by their war on energy supply.
- A war on voters who like to vote without being threatened by street thugs brandishing weapons.
- A war on Mexico, brought about by their desire to wage war on the second amendment.
- A war on democracy in the middle east, brought about by their anti-Semitic war on Israel.
- A war on the elderly – “Take the Pill”.
- A war on success – “You Didn’t Build That”.
- A war on our allies? See Eastern Europe and Israel.
- And my favorite – the war on common sense – “recovery summer”, Eric Holder’s deconstruction of lying a la Bill Clinton, insure more people while lowering costs all without a decrease in healthcare quality, spontaneous mortar and RPG celebrations in Benghazi, “composite” autobiographies, cash-for-clunkers, institutionalizing too-big-to-fail, and on and on and on and on.

War is a way of life for Democrats.

stout77 on October 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Romney may have been off base in suggesting PBS funding has much to do with the deficit,

WTF? I give that allegation four Pinocchios.

besser tot als rot on October 10, 2012 at 12:52 PM

OT : Nikki Haley tweets that SC has won the voter ID case, and the NLRB case over Boeing !!
Yay !

pambi on October 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM

OT : Nikki Haley tweets that SC has won the voter ID case, and the NLRB case over Boeing !!
Yay !

pambi on October 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM

South Carolinians should be thankful for leaders like her and Jim Demint. My state of Georgia would be pretty good except for the whole ‘Atlanta’ thing.

stout77 on October 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Lily on October 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM

THAT ….. awesome …..

conservative tarheel on October 10, 2012 at 1:05 PM

McCain didn’t beat that bunch of bumblers because he is a bumbling amateur himself, and because the country was suffering a severe case of Bush fatigue. Nasty McAmnesty was just another Bush type Republican. Too many agreed we didn’t need another 4 years of that. It was just a shame that the only other option was Zer0. But, the GOP can only blame themselves for both situations.

Quartermaster on October 10, 2012 at 12:23 PM

I am glad McCain lost …. he would have faced a Dem congress that would
have destroyed republicans … they would have passed the same laws
and McCain would have signed them …..

conservative tarheel on October 10, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Ed, I am afraid you are losing your touch! The lede for this piece should have been — “With God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”

http://youtu.be/4FXSnoy71Q4

Dr. Dog on October 10, 2012 at 1:13 PM

My wife and I saw the ad last night. We were laughing, we thought it really well done.

Johnny 100 Pesos on October 10, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Now he will retire, extremely wealthy, to a mansion in Hawaii, a home in Chicago, and a speaking circuit world wide.

KMC1 on October 10, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Fixed.

No way is O’bamna going back to Chicago. He’s already treated as Royalty in Hawai’i, so why bother?

BTW, ancient Hawaiian Royal Family members had Poi Dog as a regular part of their diets.

Del Dolemonte on October 10, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Interesting point. Hawaii also harbors strong feelings of anger towards the mainland (as they should if you know the history of Hawaii) so his anti-American focus will be a very welcome compliment to the poi dog.

Do you think he’ll whip up a new home brew (president’n be hard) to compliment the flavor of poi dog, or just go the commercial route?

KMC1 on October 10, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Romney may have been off base in suggesting PBS funding has much to do with the deficit

That’s not the first thing that crossed my mind when Romney made his comment. Regardless how seemingly a small amount of federal money it is that goes to Sesame Street, there’s no excuse to borrow money for something like that from anywhere, for what would be considered a “luxury” in someone’s personal budget. Then I thought of how many federal grants like that go to similar places and how that adds up to big bucks–so not the kind of cash we need to be borrowing, not at those interest rates, when we’re broke. Of course I realize I think quite differently from a libturd and to them no price is too high to pay to get their propaganda across to brainwash kids right outta the cradle.

stukinIL4now on October 10, 2012 at 1:33 PM

War is a way of life for Democrats.

stout77 on October 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Yeah, but you’ll notice that they only demand “exit strategies” for real wars.

Resist We Much on October 10, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Nobody died in BigBirdgate………

Benghazigate……mmmm, yep.

PappyD61 on October 10, 2012 at 12:27 PM

That’s only because the Poultermeister has enough sense to stay out of black Oldsmobiles driven by drunk Senators.

Don L on October 10, 2012 at 2:03 PM

War is a way of life for Democrats.

stout77 on October 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Yeah, but you’ll notice that they only demand “exit strategies” for real wars.

Resist We Much on October 10, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Their problem is the hole is round and they only have square pegs. The predictable failure of their policies is why people like Robert Gibbs, a four-star General along with Jay Carney in the aforementioned war on common sense, have to resort to these sorts of juvenile attacks. They are making one last appeal to the child-logic that got them elected in 2008.

You’re right – when it comes to actual enemies instead of fellow Americans (and the occasional Mexican), they can be counted on to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory every time.

stout77 on October 10, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Oh oh, I visualize a new GOP ad where Big Bird demands free condoms….yellow of course.

Don L on October 10, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Romney may have been off base in suggesting PBS funding has much to do with the deficit,

I didn’t get the impression he was making any such suggestion about PBS in particular. I saw it as more of an example designed for the benefit of Lehrer, as a way of personalizing the general principle that just because something, that doesn’t mean that it should be funded by the government. I don’t see how anyone can read anything more into it – his tone certainly did not suggest that it was anything other than a personalized example of how things that some people like are going to have to go – he said this just after he said to Obama, “I’m sorry, Obamacare will have to go.” Seemed like a way to include the moderator in the discussion, nothing more.

RINO in Name Only on October 10, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Interesting point. Hawaii also harbors strong feelings of anger towards the mainland (as they should if you know the history of Hawaii) so his anti-American focus will be a very welcome compliment to the poi dog.

Do you think he’ll whip up a new home brew (president’n be hard) to compliment the flavor of poi dog, or just go the commercial route?

KMC1 on October 10, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Right. Why would anyone go back to Chitcago if they had a choice?

I see him leading Hawaii’s annual beat-up-whitey day. He would be so in his racist element there.

slickwillie2001 on October 10, 2012 at 2:54 PM

This is getting really out of hand. We have Big Bird versus idiotic foreign policy. It is hard to give both equal weighting.

duff65 on October 10, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Romney may have been off base in suggesting PBS funding has much to do with the deficit

Good thing he didn’t do that then, isn’t it?

It would be wrong to spend tax payer money on PBS even if we had record surpluses.

xblade on October 10, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Resist We Much on October 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM

…good post as usual!
.
.
.
gawd I like reading these threads when the trolls don’t hijack them!

KOOLAID2 on October 10, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Apparently Big Bird makes $347,000/yr.

Obama makes $400,000 (plus expenses).

The real Dem ad should have BO screaming, “At some point YOU have enough”!!!

Cody1991 on October 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Couldn’t find a link for BB’s salary. Are you confusing union shill Ed Schultz with Big Bird. Schultz got $347,000 from unions.

All told, Schultz has been paid $337,490 by unions in the last seven years, according to the Labor Department. These same records show no payments from unions to Schultz between fiscal years 2000 to 2004 — before Schultz became such a passionate advocate for unions over the airwaves.

hepcat on October 10, 2012 at 11:13 PM

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