Skip to main content

Will Big Bird be downsized?

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
October 4, 2012 -- Updated 2023 GMT (0423 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mitt Romney said he would cut funding to PBS, mentioning Big Bird by name
  • Dean Obeidallah asks, will Big Bird be one of the 47% who believe they are victims?
  • Obeidallah says Cookie Monster is no doubt living paycheck to paycheck
  • He asks: Should public TV really be Romney's target when it really won't save much?

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- What has Big Bird ever done to Mitt Romney?! Did a young Mitt try to meet Big Bird and Big Bird snubbed him? Did Big Bird in essence give Mitt "the bird'? Or was Romney just channeling his inner Oscar the Grouch?

For those who may have missed it, during last night's presidential debate, Mitt Romney said that if elected president he would cut funding to PBS. He even mentioned Big Bird by name. (This is even more shocking because Mitt offered very few specifics on how he would cut the deficit other than slashing support for PBS.)

So what happens to Big Bird if Romney has his way? Will Big Bird be laid off? What jobs are out there for an 8-foot-2-inch yellow bird who sings slightly off-key? Will Big Bird become part of the 47% that Romney talked about who believe they are victims and are entitled to government funding?

Big Bird is worried.
Big Bird is worried.

And what about the other Muppets? What will come of them? How will they survive in this tough economic climate?

Entertainment: Celebs defend Big Bird

To be honest, out of all of them, I think Bert and Ernie and Guy Smiley (who reminds me of Romney) will probably fare the best. I always suspected they were financially astute. They probably have stocks, mutual funds and maybe even some off-shore investments in places like The Cayman Islands.

But what about the rest of the Muppets? Is there any doubt that Cookie Monster is living paycheck to paycheck? Will Cookie Monster turn to crime to support his habit?

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

Will we see The Count standing on the side of the road holding up a big sign that reads: "Will Count for Food"?

Big Bird's big debate boost
Sesame Workshop: 'Big Bird lives on'
Sesame Street tackles the bullying issue
Analyzing the 1st presidential debate

I don't even want to think what will happen to Mr. Snuffleupagus. What hope does a slow moving, wooly brown mammoth have in Romney's America?

Can't Mitt sit with the Count and try to figure out a way to cut the deficit without cutting out Big Bird?

Maybe Mitt Romney and the rest us simply had a different childhood. To be brutally honest, when I was a child, my family couldn't afford day care and often TV was a substitute for that. The neighbor upstairs would be around for emergencies, but my sister and I would be plopped in front of the TV -- and particularly "Sesame Street."

Political Ticker: Big Bird mentions explode on Facebook

Big Bird and the Muppets were not just a TV show to us -- they were, on some level, our friends. And more important, they taught us things before we ever stepped foot in school. I'm pretty sure I learned about the letter "C" from Cookie Monster. And there was the classic "Three of These Things Belong Together," teaching us about organization. And of course, Big Bird sang about the alphabet so that we understood that the ABCs were individual letters and not one long word.

Apart from learning, Big Bird and his crew made us laugh -- from Ernie singing about his rubber ducky to Kermit the Frog singing about the struggles of being green.

But Mitt Romney -- like the Grinch -- would take that all away from the children of America. OK, to be fair, PBS could exist without federal funding which amounts to about 15% of its total budget. But funding has already been cut, and PBS has said this would eliminate programming in its smaller markets.

Romney is not just after Big Bird -- in addition to PBS, he wants to cut all federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Cutting all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund PBS, would save only $450 million -- not much in the face of trillions of dollars.

Is this really the place Mitt Romney should be targeting? Romney said last night he would not raise taxes, would cut corporate taxes, not cut Medicare, not cut the defense budget and still reduce the deficit. Even a Muppet would call this fuzzy math.

My hope is that Mitt will take a few minutes off the campaign trail and sit with children who are watching Big Bird, Bert and Ernie and the Cookie Monster. Watch the kids' eyes light up as they see their favorite Muppet on the screen. Hear them giggle to the jokes or sing along in learning about the alphabet. Perhaps then, Mitt Romney's heart will grow three sizes and he will give a reprieve to our 8-foot yellow friend.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 2209 GMT (0609 HKT)
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1802 GMT (0202 HKT)
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1419 GMT (2219 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1658 GMT (0058 HKT)
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 0910 GMT (1710 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1900 GMT (0300 HKT)
John Sutter says the right is often stereotyped on climate change. But with 97% of climate scientists say humans are causing global warming, we all have to get together on this.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
Andrew Liepman and Philip Mudd: When we declare that we will defeat ISIS, what do we exactly mean?
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 2040 GMT (0440 HKT)
Thailand sex trafficking
Human trafficking is a multibillion dollar global industry. To beat it, we need to change mindsets, Cindy McCain says.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
The leaders of the GOP conferences say a Republican-led Senate could help solve America's problems.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1401 GMT (2201 HKT)
Nicholas Syrett says Wesleyan University's decision to make fraternities admit women will help curb rape culture.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Mike Downey says New Yorkers may be overdoing it, but baseball will really miss Derek Jeter
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1232 GMT (2032 HKT)
Quick: Which U.S. president has authorized wars of various kinds in seven Muslim countries?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1817 GMT (0217 HKT)
Women's issues should be considered front and center when assessing a society's path, says Zainab Salbi
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1805 GMT (0205 HKT)
A catastrophe not making headlines like Ebola and ISIS: the astounding rate of child poverty in the world's richest country.
ADVERTISEMENT