by Neil Kuvin
So the big yellow creature that’s been living in our TV sets since 1969 has a bump-and-run with Mitt Romney and now, President Obama. And social media has never seen the likes of the incredible traffic created as a result. So, what’s the big deal?
In the life of just about every major National election, you can likely track the emergence of one comment, sound bite or event that may have changed not just the outcome of that particular election, but of the entire course of history for the WORLD (caps intended) from that moment forward. Think about it. When it comes to something this important, and millions of voters yet undecided are in play, it’s not the so-called “stakes” that get raised. It’s the unbelievable responsibility of the American voting public to use more than emotion and influenced opinion, before entering their voting booth on November 6.
What’s Big Bird got to do with running a country? Mr. Romney says he would cut federal funding for PBS if he were elected. Nothing personal, mind you. “I love Big Bird,” he was quoted as saying. He just wants to find budget-balancing opportunities. The truth be told, “Sesame Street,” as just one of the many programs funded by federal dollars directed to the Center for Public Broadcasting, represents a very small percentage and amount of dollars in the overall budget.
“Is it really necessary to have a military budget larger than every other country in the world?” asks Mr. John-Robert Curtin, who spent nearly two decades as General Manager of the PBS TV station in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Curtin goes on to note, “The cost (around $400 million) of one fighter jet could fund PBS for a year.”
The day following the 1st debate, Mr. Obama is quoted as saying, in reaction, “He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on Sesame Street!”
As a former President and General Manager of WHAS-TV, I understand and appreciate the media’s role in all of this. However, when media exacerbate the situation by guessing and positioning this as the lead story at 6 or doubling-down on page one, it only creates a “I better pay attention to this” environment where every negative and demeaning word of embattlement will be underscored, capitalized and re-run.
What we have here is the blooming into flower (or is that a weed?) of over a year of nasty, demeaning and downright derisive politicking. From both sides. And some of it very personal.
When you disagree with your next-door neighbor, do you call him a liar and accuse him of making up his own facts? Who says this uncalled-for disrespectful, shameful rhetoric makes you any more worth voting for? Why is the immediate response from either of you to make the other appear to be a phony or otherwise less of an intelligent candidate for the office? I understand that most people just take all this pomposity as part of the theater that is politics. But, after more than 60 years of witnessing election dancing, I’ve never been this conscious of verbal battering.
Consider the millions of children – many of them now adults – who can claim Big Bird as a major contributor to their early learning years. The influence of that seven-foot yellow carpet with a voice is incalculable. Mr. Romney, I wonder if your PR people, in prepping you for the debate, really condoned your use of that lovable creature as a target for your critical verbiage. I bet you wish you hadn’t taken their advice now.
Mr. Romney: you are addressing the President of the United States. If you won’t show some respect for Mr. Obama, at least recognize and value the position of President which you are pursuing. And President Obama, the opportunities to find “gotcha” moments are not impressive or are they admirable. All those millions of “Sesame Street” fans are learning what? from your “got you back” moment?
With the serious sobering conditions existing throughout the world, and certainly here at home, is this squabbling over a fictitious character getting us anywhere closer to finding solutions for the overwhelming problems we face? Sir, as leader of the free, indeed entire world, your tactics, demeanor, and show of respect for your challenger should be prominent and practiced in every instance.
In the words of that famous PR practitioner from LA, Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”