President Barack Obama can't even get his snark straight.
In an attempt at the cutting cleverness that escaped him during his debate with Mitt Romney, his campaign aired a TV ad hitting the Republican for his alleged hostility to Big Bird. “Mitt Romney knows it's not Wall Street you have to worry about,” the ominous voice-over declares. “It's ‘Sesame Street.'”
The problem with the widely panned spot is that it plays less like a spoof of Romney than a parody of one of the Obama team's own negative ads. It's as dishonest, over the top and — for lack of a better word — stupid.
Like much of the Obama campaign since the Drubbing in Denver, the ad exhibited all the thoughtfulness and care you would expect of people laboring in trying circumstances, augmented by their own panic.
The president of the United States himself — the man who once pledged to elevate our politics and make the oceans recede — has made Big Bird a recurring feature of his stump speeches. He also cites Elmo and Oscar as other characters who need to “watch out.”
Obama told an adoring throng at one of his events that Romney “said he'd bring down our deficit by going after what has been the biggest driver of our debt and deficits over the last decade — public television, PBS.” On “Sesame Street,” they would tell you Obama's statement is spelled U-N-T-R-U-E.
Stipulating “I love Big Bird,” Romney said he would stop the subsidy to PBS, not because it is a big expenditure in the scheme of things, but because he doesn't want to spend on unnecessary items that we must “borrow money from China to pay for.”
This hasn't stopped the president from portraying Romney as the most malignant threat to the 8-foot-tall flightless canary since Sid and Sam Sleaze tried to capture him for their carnival in the 1985 movie “Follow That Bird.”
Romney's point is unremarkable. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting gets more than $400 million a year from the federal government. If this is an essential expenditure at a time of $1 trillion deficits and a $16 trillion debt, what is nonessential?