Hoping to capitalize on the sustained attention he has received in the wake of the first presidential debate, Big Bird has decided to thrust himself into the suddenly volatile race for the White House, releasing a satirical ad that takes tongue-in-cheek aim at President Obama and detailing a plan to defund the campaign of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Hoping to capitalize on the sustained attention he has received in the wake of the first presidential debate, Big Bird has decided to thrust himself into the suddenly volatile race for the White House, releasing a satirical ad that takes tongue-in-cheek aim at President Barack Obama and detailing a plan to defund the campaign of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
“Your children deserve better than what they have been getting from these two candidates – and certainly I deserve better,” Big Bird said, speaking at a rally outside the large nest he calls home behind a brownstone at 123 Sesame St. “I believe I have a message that will resonate with those who are the future of this country, even if they can only count up to 17.”
The famous Muppet usually stays clear of the hustle-bustle of election-year politics, preferring to ponder the meaning and pronunciation of the 26-letter English word that starts with A and ends in Z. But Big Bird said he had been prompted to enter the national discourse by a sense of civic duty and an impression that after years of economic distress and international unrest, voters want to believe that a Muppet created for a children’s program might just be the remedy for what ails them.
“I think I have something to say to the people of this country, even if I have to say it to them through their pre-school-aged children,” Big Bird said, adding that the “Sesame Street” producers, at his behest, will be writing math-learning skits into the program based on the numerical challenges posed by Mitt Romney’s tax-cutting plan and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s use of zero as an integer.
Big Bird said his new ad – “Big and Little” – which will begin airing next week, has the full backing of the Sesame Street producers as well as his fellow Muppets.
Aides to the Sesame Street star said the spot will run alongside shows like “MythBusters” and “Mad Men,” programs, they said, that attract an audience certain to appreciate the humor of the 30-second piece.
In it, a deep-voiced narrator recites a list of “Sesame Street” regulars. “Alice Snuffleupagus, Bert, Count von Count, Ernie, Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch. Educators of excellence,” he intones as images of the show’s well-known and enduring characters appear on the screen.
“And the genius who towers over them?” the voice wonders.
The video then cuts to a scene of: Big Bird trying to engage Mr. Obama in what appears to be a rehearsal for his next debate.
“One Muppet has the guts to treat the president like a kid,” the ad narrator says, followed by a shot of the 8-foot-2 Big Bird quizzing the 6-foot-1 Mr. Obama, first about how the president’s tax proposals are fair to both the wealthy and middle class, and then on the logic that is the basis for the famous “Sesame Street” sketch showing the difference between “big” and “little.”
Page 2 of 2 - At the end of the ad the president is shown sleeping contentedly in a nest, presumably after putting his newfound knowledge to good use in the second presidential debate.
The pushback from the Romney campaign was immediate.
At a rally in Iowa in the afternoon, Mr. Romney wasted no time in turning the tables on the Obama campaign. “These are tough times with real serious and grown-up issues,’ he said, “so you have to scratch your head when the president spent the past week talking and training with Big Bird.”
Aides to Mr. Obama insist the president had nothing to do with the ad and that he does not recall engaging in any debate-training sessions with Big Bird, though the president’s aides acknowledge that the rarified air in Denver has been wreaking havoc with Mr. Obama’s memory in the week or so since his uneven performance there in the first debate.
The president’s aides did say they were heartened to hear of Big Bird’s plan to defund Mr. Romney’s campaign. Mr. Romney, though, seemed puzzled about being singled out by the legendary Muppet.
“I don’t have anything against PBS,” Mr. Romney said, pointing out that Matt, Jackie, and Inez, the three children who use math and problem-solving skills to save Cyberspace in the PBS program “Cyberchase,” have been trying to help him “make the numbers work” in his tax and budget proposals.
“I like Big Bird, too. I do,” Mr. Romney insisted, waving a crumpled piece of peanut-butter-stained notepaper covered with hastily scribbled calculations. “I just don’t think the government should be paying for his programming when it can put that money to better use funding lavish presidential conventions in Florida.”
Big Bird said he was glad to see that Mr. Romney seemed to be getting back to math basics and that the president, based on the new ad, seemed to be getting some much-needed sleep. But the Muppet, who has already planned rallies in Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia, doesn’t envision getting out of the race any time soon.
“There are so many teachable moments to be had,” he said, “But I will stop my campaign when I’m satisfied that both candidates have watched my piece ‘Same and Different’ and that they both actually understand what it means.”
Philip Maddocks writes political satire and humor for GateHouse Media and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.