It's official. Mitt Romney won this week's debate on style, Barack Obama won on the facts, but Big Bird has won the post-debate media cycle. Days after the debate, the one policy that Americans are still talking about is Romney's promise to cut funding for PBS.
Lori Rackl at The Chicago Sun-Times:
Let’s channel one of Big Bird’s colleagues, Count von Count, and do some math: The federal government gave $445 million this year to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes that money to PBS and, to a lesser degree, NPR member stations across the country.According to the AP, Big Bird is the one that got the biggest post-debate bounce:
That $445 million works out to about 1/100 of 1 percent of the federal budget.
That’s like me saying I’m going to lose weight by trimming my nails.
I realize that $445 million, no matter how small a blip on the budget, is still a lot of cash. But if Uncle Sam put all of our money to this good of use, I’d voluntarily climb into the next income-tax bracket.
Big Bird has never been so hot.TiVo claims that Romney's desire to cut PBS funding was the most viewed moment of the debate. And from The National Constitution Center:
"Saturday Night Live," Jimmy Fallon, Piers Morgan, the "Today" show and "Good Morning America" all asked for appearances from the "Sesame Street" character on Thursday after he was unexpectedly thrust into the presidential campaign by Mitt Romney.
The phrase “Big Bird” was appearing 17,000 times every minute on Twitter. At midnight, CNN reported that mentions of Big Bird on Facebook were up an astronomical 800,000%.Alice Hines at The Huffington Post:
Facebook later said Big Bird was the fourth most-mentioned topic on Facebook during the debate, getting more attention than topics like jobs, taxes, Jim Lehrer and Obamacare.
Big Bird's popularity also generates sales -- and jobs -- at small businesses like the ones mentioned by Romney at Wednesday's debate. American Plume & Fancy Feather Co. in Scranton, Penn. sells $12,000 to $15,000 a year worth of yellow feathers that go into making the world's Big Bird costumes.Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon looks at the emotional argument and why it may be trouble for a candidate who's looking to "humanize" himself with voters:
What Romney, in his adorably out-of-touch way, failed to grasp with that statement is that practically every American under the age of 50 has a powerful childhood association with that goofy oversize lug. An entire generation can trace its first understanding of death to the moment that Big Bird let it sink in that “Mr. Hooper’s not coming back.” And another generation learned about loss and community and resilience after 9/11 when “Sesame Street” had Big Bird’s own nest destroyed in a storm. (The show aired Big Bird’s odyssey again after Katrina.) And I defy even a robotic millionaire to get through Big Bird’s choked-up rendition of “It’s Not Easy Being Green” at Jim Henson’s memorial service and not completely lose it when he says, “Thank you, Kermit.” [...]Suzi Parker at The Washington Post:
[D]espite coming out of the evening looking stronger than he has in weeks — Romney made the error of looking like a man who is not on the side of innocence, whimsy, learning or childhood. Nor did he seem to grasp that Big Bird is an integral part of a show that was created for and remains at its core about community and diversity, one that has for decades been an essential tool in helping low-income children prepare for school. Going after Big Bird is like putting down baseball and rainbows and YouTube videos of otter pups. You just don’t.
Obama was not his best Wednesday night, but he could leverage Big Bird. That is if the Obama campaign is smart. A survey in 2008 noted that 77 million Americans had watched “Sesame Street” as children. That’s a lot of potential voters to woo. Nostalgia runs deep, trust me.
Big Bird, an iconic image, could serve as a bright yellow reminder that the Romney administration is keen on deep cuts to beloved institutions.