Mitt Romney's comment in the first presidential debate about defunding Big Bird was the fodder for lots of jokes, but it has more serious implications, not just for public funding for the arts, but for the future of America's global competitiveness.
Mitt Romney was charismatic at the first presidential debate. But he wasn't honest. Mitt Romney needs to spend a few good hours with Mister Rogers, whose humility, plain spoken honesty, wisdom, and integrity could teach him some valuable lessons.
If you wanted to take on PBS there are lots of ways to do it. Threaten it all and the 2011 federal deficit would shrink from approximately $1,299,000,000,000 to $1,298,555,000,000. It's not nothing, but is it worth the cost?
I'm concerned that the comic edge may obscure the truth: Big Bird is an avian proxy -- what Romney really proposes is to kill a golden goose. Crippling public broadcasting would result in devastating cultural and educational losses.
For those who would cut funding to the arts through eliminating NPR, PBS, and the NEA, I urge you to think not about the programs that you do not like and instead think of your childhoods, your kids, and grand kids.