Watching the debate on Wednesday I felt I was in a bizarro world. Governor Romney was looking presidential, spouting statistics and talking compassionately about people he met who are unemployed, and President Obama was looking vulnerable, defensive, and out of touch with the American electorate.
I felt I was in the Land of Oz and maybe if I clicked my heels I would be transported back to reality. I knew that Governor Romney was a good debater who has had lots of practice in the primaries and more time to prepare than the president, but I was expecting a more equal sporting event.
The governor was doing a pretty good job of re-selling himself as a caring person who wanted to help the middle class -- until he slipped up and the real man showed up. That moment occurred when he said he wanted to cut PBS. Right away I thought uh, oh. This is going to be his zinger, but not in the way he intended.
He delivered the line in a carefree, joking way, saying he loved Big Bird and liked the moderator, Jim Lehrer, but that PBS would have to go because his budget couldn't afford it. These comments show the two- sidedness of Romney. He thinks by sweet-talking you, he will somehow soften the blow of getting canned. What an insult to a well-respected news anchor who has done a superb job for many years! Secondly, how can you so casually talk about axing Big Bird, who is an icon to today's children as well as the baby boomers who grew up with Sesame Street?
His behavior was condescending and arrogant and reminds me of a CEO asking a faithful, long-working employee of his company to come into his office to say: "I love you and you have done a good job, but I have to let you go because we can't afford you" while he keeps his own obscene profits.
This is the Mitt Romney who said he likes to fire people. This is the Mitt Romney who founded Bain Capital, the pioneer of outsourcing and vulture capitalism. This is the Mitt Romney who was captured on that video at the private fundraiser where he said that 47 percent of the population were victims who didn't pay income taxes and were dependent on the government and will never take responsibility for their lives. This is the Mitt Romney who represents the party that wants to cut anything that has the word "public" in it. NPR, PBS, NEA, public education. What's next? Public libraries? They already want to get rid of the postal system, the EPA, and Planned Parenthood.
Ending the station of Sesame Street, Antique Roadshow, Masterpiece Theatre, Live From Lincoln Center, Frontline, Nova, Bill Moyers Journal, Charlie Rose and countless specials and concerts? Blasphemous. Tell senior citizens you are taking away The Lawrence Welk Show. See what kind of reaction you get. And the PBS NewHour (with Jim Lehrer) is probably the only fair and balanced news show on television. They present just the facts without a bias one way or another.
PBS is also a free channel, so you are once again targeting those pesky moochers who may be unemployed or on Social Security and Medicare who maybe can't afford cable. But as you said, Mr. Romney, you don't worry about those folks because they aren't going to vote for you anyway. Just like you said you don't care about the very poor because they have a safety net (right).
I think once again, Governor Romney, you have shown how out of touch you are because you have not realized the firestorm you have created. Already in the Huffington Post there is a letter written to you by an eight-year-old girl upset about your ending Sesame Street. Of course, with your innate ability to be a chameleon, in a few weeks you may come back with a statement of "never mind" (as the president suggested you have done with your tax plan.)
One good thing your remark has created is an increase in donations to PBS. It shows the public cares and wants the network to continue. The ridiculous thing is government funding for PBS is 0.012 percent of the budget, or a small drop in a big bucket. The station is also funded by donations from the viewing audience.
No matter what happens, I believe America will not ax Big Bird or PBS NewsHour because in the long run the public will have its say. Just as we will on November 6th. Maybe by then the bizarre political world of the first debate will be back to normal, whatever that is.