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