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 1, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT