Mitt Romney’s Big Bird swipe during Wednesday’s debate raised some hackles: PBS’s, many on social media and mine.So begins the Saturday New York Times column by Charles M. Blow. As is usually the case with Blow's columns, it is a must read.
He quotes Mitt Romney from the debate, then says simply of what Romney said
Those are fighting words.He mentions the explosion on social media, quotes from the PBS response to Romney, then offers another one liner:
Exactly! What they said!But there is so much more. . .
Immediately after the one liner I just quoted, Blow begins an explanation of the importance of Big Bird.
Here is the start of that explanation:
Big Bird is the man. He’s 8 feet tall. He can sing and roller skate and ride a unicycle and dance. Can you do that, Mr. Romney? I’m not talking about your fox trot away from the facts. I’m talking about real dancing.
Of greater importance is this:
Big Bird and his friends also showed me what it meant to resolve conflicts with kindness and accept people’s differences and look out for the less fortunate. Do you know anything about looking out for the less fortunate, Mr. Romney? Or do you think they’re all grouches scrounging around in trash cans?But Blow is just getting started.
He refers to the 47% comment, and concludes that paragraph with
Do you really believe that Pennsylvania Avenue is that far away from Sesame Street? It shouldn’t be.And to put it bluntly:
Let me make it simple for you, Mr. Romney. I’m down with Big Bird. You pick on him, you answer to me.Romney will answer to Blow because Blow personally knows the importance of PBS, starting with his childhood in a poor family without daycare except for a great-uncle or preschool. But he could watch PBS. Later he was able to overcome the lack of specific instruction because of watching nature shows on PBS.
He offers more personal testimony, concluding that portion of his column with this simple statement:
I honestly don’t know where I would be in the world without PBS.He quotes from the PBS statement in response to Romney, including that the cost of PBS to the average American is $1.35/year. That pales when placed next to the waste in the defense budget, a budget that Romney wants to increase with spending on things the Generals and Admirals do not even want.
Whatever else he might have gained from the debate, Romney did himself more than that amount in damage by messing with Big Bird. Too many of the people whose votes he wants treasure what PBS offers. That is especially true of Sesame Street, and has been for decades.
Romney thought he was being clever. Right. About as clever as his jokes about cookies in Pennsylvania or rain gear at Nascar.
I think Blow absolutely nails it in his close:
PBS is a national treasure, and Big Bird is our golden — um, whatever kind of bird he is.It is one of our true national treasures. We who value it - which is a huge proportion of the American population - do not like it being used as a political kickball.
Major fail on the part of Mitt Romney.
And one terrific column by Charles M. Blow.
Pass it on.