In last night’s debate, Mitt Romney talked about how he wants to go through the federal budget and eliminate any government spending he doesn’t feel he could justifying paying for by borrowing money from China. Of the specific things he mentioned, the one that will probably get the most attention was his desire to cut funding for PBS. It was notable not so much for its novelty – Republicans have long made PBS-bashing a recreational sport – but because he said it to the debate’s moderator, Jim Lehrer, host of PBS’s NewsHour program. In emphasizing his point, Romney voiced his love for the classic PBS Sesame Street character Big Bird, but noted that despite that love he would still cut funding for the station if elected President.
The response to the comments directed at Big Bird has been immediate and angry. And nowhere has that backlash been more apparent than on Sesame Street itself. I just happened to be in the Sesame Street neighborhood watching the debate. So, as soon as it concluded, I headed right over to get some reactions from various denizens of that famous stretch of pavement. Here is what they had to say.
“Cookie Monster like Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney no like taxes. Cookie Monster no like taxes, thinks he should be able to keep every part of every cookie he steal. No want to give 40% of chocolate chips to invasive, overbearing federal bureaucrats.”
When I asked him how he felt about Romney’s plan to cut funding for PBS, which could seriously hamper the station’s ability to keep their cookie supply fully stocked, he responded by saying, “Cookie Monster not know that part. On second thought, fuck Mitt Romney.”
Bert and Ernie
The two bickering life partners of course had divergent views.
Bert: Mitt Romney is the only one who can get this country back on track. The United States is running off the rails, and we need a strong conservative leader to get us back on track. I’ve already sent in my ballot.
Ernie: What a load of crap, Bert. You don’t like Mitt Romney. You’ll just do anything to avoid marrying me. I’m sick and tired of you hiding your fear of commitment behind politicians who espouse socially conservative views. I’ve given you the best years of my life, and you repay me by voting for someone who would deny us the right to be happy.
Bert: Oh, would you please stop with the marriage crap? I told you, we’ll get to it when we’re both good and ready.
Ernie: Well, I’m ready, Bert! I’ve been ready! It’s you who isn’t ready!…
At this point Ernie teared up and went running off down the alley.
Bert: Romney/Ryan 2012!
Count von Count
“This was my favorite debate of all-time. There was so much counting. One, two, three times President Obama called out Governor Romney on his arithmetic. And the moderator, my good friend Jim Lehrer, kept telling the candidates how far they had run over the allotted time – two minutes, three minutes, four minutes! Plus, the evening featured many sarcastic smiles on each candidate’s face. I counted…
At this point I decided I might be better off getting a few more reactions, and slowly eased away from the Count.
“Elmo wasn’t too tickled by Governor Romney wanting to take away PBS’s funding.”
Oscar the Grouch
“Let me lay it down for you, man. It don’t matter which one of these pieces of garbage gets elected. We’re all screwed. You’re screwed. That giant turkey, Big Bird, is obviously screwed. Snuffleupagus is screwed. I’m definitely screwed, but that’s just the way it always is. Neither one of those guys is going to get me a nicer garbage can to live in. Neither of them is going to find me a better garbage collection job. Neither of them is going to improve the quality of the used banana peels I eat for dinner. None of it matters. I say, screw ‘em. Screw ‘em both.”
Big Bird was very busy handling multiple interviews, but we finally got a chance to discuss the existential threat Mitt Romney leveled at he/she/it earlier in the evening.
Big Bird: I respect Governor Romney. He seems very smart for a talking swan.
Me: Actually, he’s not a swan.
BB: Oh, huh. I guess I didn’t realize that. Either way, he seems fine.
Me: Even though he wants to eliminate your funding?
BB: If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that every polar bear deserves to have their opinion.
Me: Um, he’s not a polar bear either.
BB: Are you sure? I mean, he’s so white.
Me: Yeah, I know, but it turns out he’s a human being.
BB: A human being? Really?
BB: What kind of a human being would want to take away the money to make a show like Sesame Street?