President Obama‘s reelection campaign continues to tear into Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over Romney’s vicious attack on Big Bird at last Wednesday night’s debate. Following widespread public revulsion at Romney over his singling out of the feathered giant for plucking, Obama For America has released a cheeky new ad starring the friendly fowl as a Sesame-Streetwise mastermind of the financial crisis that cratered our economy, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the Eliot Ness figure who will bring him down.
“Bernie Madoff. Ken Lay. Dennis Kozlowski. Criminals. Gluttons of greed,” begins the ominous narration. “And the evil genius who towered over them?”
The ad cuts to a shadowy, familiar figure in the window of a glass tower. “One man has the guts to speak his name.”
That man, of course, is Mitt Romney, and if there’s anything that this commercial ads to the Big Bird narrative, it’s that Romney’s attack wasn’t some one-off, it was pat of an ED-209-like assault on the world’s most popular canary (sorry, Tweetie). Romney has been filleting Big Bird on the stump for over a year now, an attack that’s popular with a certain segment of the Republican base for whom this argument makes sense: that a tiny, popular drop in the budget bucket is worthier of cutting than a much larger, very unpopular collection of drops in that same bucket.
The Big Bird soundbite was a political gift to the Obama campaign, but time will tell if it offsets the entire gift registry that President Obama bought for Romney hen he decided to channel a cross between Jon Stewart’s Woody Allen impression and a narcoleptic college professor at the debate. While it’s true that the debate, at 60 million plus, was seen by many more people than will ever see this ad, the Big Bird attack itself has filtered into the popular consciousness in a big way. A big, bright yellow way.
Here’s the ad, followed by OFA’s accompanying memo:
CHICAGO—Big. Yellow. Loved by kids everywhere. And only one candidate has the courage to go after him. Today, Obama for America is out with a new TV spot because, whilePresident Obama passed historic Wall Street reform to hold big banks accountable and give consumers tools to make informed decisions for themselves, his opponent, Mitt Romney, has shown true conviction by vowing to take down Big Bird and keep Sesame Street under control.
Attacking one of America’s favorite feathered friends has become a staple of Mitt Romney’s stump speech, and was featured in his dramatic debate performance. But even on issues as seemingly simple as 8-foot tall talking birds and early childhood education, Mitt Romney’s rhetoric is out of touch with the facts. When asked how he would cut the deficit, Romney’s answer is to eliminate PBS and Sesame Street – an absurd solution. You would need to cut PBS more than 1,000 times to fill the hole in Romney’s budget promises!
As the Count (and anyone who has watched him on Sesame Street) can attest, that’s just bad math.
View the new television ad click HERE.
AD SCRIPT BACKUP President Obama: I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message. Anncr: Bernie Madoff. Ken Lay. Dennis Kozlowski. Criminals. Gluttons of greed.
Stills, Wall Street footage
MADOFF, LAY AND KOZLOWSKI: GLUTTONS OF GREED
Bernie Madoff Pleaded Guilty To All Federal Charges In “The Largest Fraud In Wall Street History.” “But on Dec. 11, 2008, Mr. Madoff was arrested at his Manhattan home by federal agents and charged in a 20-year Ponzi scheme that was the largest fraud in Wall Street history. On March 12, 2009, Mr. Madoff pleaded guilty to all the federal charges filed against him — 11 felony counts, including securities fraud, money laundering and perjury.” [New York Times, 6/28/12]
Ken Lay Was Convicted On Fraud And Conspiracy Charges After Overseeing Enron, Ultimately “A Bankrupt Shell Synonymous With Corporate Greed And Deceit.” “Enron imploded with breathtaking speed in the early 2000s, going virtually overnight from being the nation’s seventh-largest company to a bankrupt shell synonymous with corporate greed and deceit. Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were at the helm as the company collapsed, taking the jobs and savings of thousands along with it… The company filed for Chapter 11 on December 2, 2001 — at that point the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Skilling and Lay were tried together and convicted in May 2006 on fraud and conspiracy charges. [TIME Magazine, accessed 10/8/12]
Dennis Kozlowski: “Poster Boy For Corporate Greed.” “Dennis Kozlowski, the poster boy for corporate greed, is going to have to pay the piper — again. The 59-year-old convicted felon, nabbed for using Tyco International cash to fund his outrageously lavish lifestyle — replete with a $6,000 shower curtain for his Fifth Avenue apartment — agreed yesterday to forfeit some of the looted money, The Post has learned.” [New York Post,8/11/12]
And the evil genius who towered over them?
Big Bird silhouette.
BIG BIRD IS MORE THAN 8 FEET TALL
Big Bird Is More Than Eight Feet Tall. “How big is Big Bird? 8’2?.” [The Atlantic,9/25/12]
- · New York Times Columnist Charles Blow: “Don’t Mess With Big Bird” [Charles Blow, New York Times, 10/5/12]
One man has the guts to speak his name.
Romney at Debate
Romney at different events, and debate.
Speaking Critically Of Funding For PBS, Romney Mentioned “Big Bird.”[Presidential Debate, Denver, CO, 10/3/12]
Speaking Critically Of Funding For PBS, Romney Mentioned “Big Bird.” [Romney Event, Clinton IA, 12/28/11]
Speaking Critically Of Funding For PBS, Romney Mentioned “Big Bird.” [Romney Q&A, Peoria IL, 3/19/12]
Big Bird Sync: “It’s me. Big Bird.”
BIG BIRD LIVES NEXT TO A TRASH CAN, GETS CONFUSED AND STILL HAS A TEDDY BEAR
Big Bird: An Unusually Tall Bird Who Lives Next To A Trash Can, “Is Prone To Frequent Misunderstandings” And Owns A Teddy Bear. “Big Bird is an 8-foot, 2-inch yellow bird who lives on Sesame Street. Since Sesame Street premiered in 1969, Big Bird has entertained millions of pre-school children and their parents with his wide-eyed wondering at the world. Big Bird is also a bird who makes friends easily…But despite this wide array of talents, he’s prone to frequent misunderstandings, like thinking that the alphabet is one long word. Big Bird lives in a large nest behind 123 Sesame Street and next to Oscar’s trash can, and he has a teddy bear named Radar.” [Muppet Wiki, accessed 10/8/12]
Anncr: Big. Yellow. A menace to our economy.
BIG BIRD HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF BULLYING LAWMAKERS INTO HANDING OVER TAXPAYER DOLLARS—AND HAVING LAZY FRIENDS…
Big Bird Pressured Lawmakers Into “Handing Over The Usual Big Bucks.” “CPB and its ‘noncommercial’ allies once again are deploying sympathetic op-ed writers and marshaling Big Bird, Bert, Ernie and the usual children’s choir to the Capitol steps to pressure lawmakers into handing over the usual big bucks. As if ‘Sesame Street’ and other superior programs couldn’t find a TV home elsewhere in a New York minute.” [Heritage Foundation, 2/25/08]
Heritage Foundation: It’s Time Elmo Got A Real Job.” [Heritage Foundation,2/16/11]
…BUT IN REALITY, BIG BIRD HARNESSES THE POWER OF THE MEDIA FOR THE GOOD OF EVERY CITIZEN, AND EVERYBODY LIKES BIG BIRD
Big Bird Harnesses The Power Of The Media For The Good Of Every Citizen. “For more than 40 years Big Bird has embodied the public broadcasting mission – harnessing the power of media for the good of every citizen, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. Our system serves as a universally accessible resource for education, history, science, arts and civil discourse.” [PBS Press Release, 10/4/12]
Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it’s Sesame Street.
Romney. Wall Street sign. Sesame Street sign.
ROMNEY VOWS TO REPEAL WALL STREET REFORM BUT HAS NO PLANS FOR PREVENTING ANOTHER FINANCIAL CRISIS
Headline: “Mitt Romney Mum On How To Regulate Big Banks” [Boston Globe,5/2/12]
Romney Pledge To Repeal Dodd-Frank But Has Been Silent On How He Would Prevent Wall Street From Engaging In The Risky Practices That Helped Cause The 2008 Financial Crisis. “Republican Mitt Romney is pledging, if he is elected president, to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, a position favored by donors on Wall Street who have sent millions the candidate’s way. But he is nearly silent on how – without the regulation – he would prevent Wall Street from once again engaging in the risky practices that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis.” [Boston Globe, 5/2/12]
In His 150 Page Economic Plan, Romney Does Not Specify What Kind Of Financial Regulation Is Necessary. “Romney has been particularly vague about the Wall Street crash and the causes of the Great Recession. His 150-page economic plan acknowledges that financial regulation is necessary, but he doesn’t specify which kind.” [TIME, 12/12/11]
PRESIDENT OBAMA PASSED THE MOST SWEEPING SET OF WALL STREET REFORMS SINCE THE 1930s
New York Times: “President Obama Signed A Sweeping Expansion Of Federal Financial Regulation” That “Subjects More Financial Companies To Federal Oversight And Regulates Many Derivatives Contracts While Creating A Consumer Protection Regulator And A Panel To Detect Risks To The Financial System.”“President Obama signed a sweeping expansion of federal financial regulation on Wednesday, signaling perhaps the Democrats’ last major legislative victory before the midterm elections in November, which could recast the Congressional landscape…Still, Democrats and White House officials were euphoric about passage of the legislation, a response to the 2008 financial crisis that tipped the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The law subjects more financial companies to federal oversight and regulates many derivatives contracts while creating a consumer protection regulator and a panel to detect risks to the financial system.” [New York Times, 7/21/10]
Wall Street Reform Will “Shine A Light Into Shadowy Financial Markets That Had Escaped The Oversight Of Regulators.” “The law will give the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, create a new agency to protect consumers in their financial transactions and shine a light into shadowy financial markets that had escaped the oversight of regulators. From storefront payday lenders to the biggest banking and investment houses on Wall Street, few players in the financial world are immune to the bill’s reach. Consumer and investor transactions, whether simple debit card swipes or the most complex securities trades, face new safeguards or restrictions.” [Associated Press, 7/16/10]
Romney Sync: “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS.”
Romney: “I’m Going To Stop The Subsidy To PBS”[Presidential Debate, Denver CO, 10/3/12]
ROMNEY WILL ELIMINATE FUNDING FOR PBS
Romney: “I’m Going To Stop The Subsidy To PBS” [Presidential Debate, Denver CO, 10/3/12]
Romney Wanted To Eliminate The Corporation For Public Broadcasting. Romney: “One is to eliminate programs – and the easiest to get rid of are the ones they don’t like, like Obama Care…. And then there are other programs. The National Endowment for the Arts. The National Endowment for the Humanities, Amtrak, Public Broadcasting.” [Des Moines Register Editorial Board Meeting, 12/9/11]
Romney: “I’m Going To Stop The Subsidy To PBS. I’m Going To Stop Other Things. I Like PBS. I Love Big Bird. I Actually Like You Too. But I’m Not Going To — I’m Not Going To Keep On Spending Money On Things To Borrow Money From China To Pay For It.” Romney: “I’m sorry, Jim. I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it. That’s number one. Number two, I’ll take programs that are currently good programs but I think could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to state. Number three, I’ll make government more efficient, and to cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will be done through attrition, by the way. This is the approach we have to take to get America to a balanced budget. The president said he’d cut the deficit in half. Unfortunately, he doubled it. Trillion-dollar deficits for the last four years. The president’s put it in place as much public debt — almost as much debt held by by the public as all prior presidents combined.” [Presidential Debate, Denver, CO, 10/3/12]
Romney Said He Would Eliminate Funding For PBS Adding “I Like Big Bird And Bert And Ernie But No Longer Are They Going To Get Government Support To Pay For Them.” Romney: “I’m going to eliminate the, uh, there’s a group that supports, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, places like PBS, I like Big Bird and Bert and Ernie but no longer are they going to get government support to pay for them.” [WTVN (Columbus, OH), 2/27/12]
IN REALITY, PBS REACHES 91% OF ADULTS AND 81% OF YOUNG CHILDREN AND REPRESENTS ABOUT ONE ONE-HUNDREDTH OF A PERCENT OF THE FEDERAL BUDGET
PBS Reaches 91 % Of All Households And 81% Of All Children Ages 2-8 Over The Course Of A Year. “Over the course of a year, 91% of all U.S. television households tune into their local PBS station. In fact, our service is watched by 81% of all children between the ages of 2-8.” [PBS Press Release, 10/4/12]
According To PBS, The Federal Investment In Public Broadcasting Equals About One One-Hundredth Of One Percent Of The Federal Budget. “The federal investment in public broadcasting equals about one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget. Elimination of funding would have virtually no impact on the nation’s debt. Yet the loss to the American public would be devastating.” [PBS Press Release, 10/4/12]
Anncr: Mitt Romney. Taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest.
Approved by Barack Obama. Paid for by Obama for America.
Everybody Likes Big Bird. “Sesame Street has been a proud partner of PBS for 43 years, and is dependent on PBS to distribute our commercial-free educational programming to all children in the United States. At a time when improvements in school readiness are recognized as being much needed for a significant number of America’s preschoolers, PBS’s ability to connect Big Bird and Friends to these children is essential. We highly value that connection. Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization. We do not comment on political campaigns, but we’re happy we can all agree that everyone likes Big Bird.” [Statement By Sesame Workshop, 10/4/12]
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