Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Big Bird and Politics - Quite a Surprise

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on October 9, 2012

By Bill Gouveia

In my never-ending quest to bring the latest information to you good readers, I was able to secure an exclusive interview with one of the key figures in the recent Presidential debate.  After exhausting nearly every contact in my intricate political network, I managed to get the inside scoop from the famous personality who took the biggest direct hit in the televised event.

No, I didn’t interview President Obama.  I spoke to Big Bird.

That’s right, the gentle giant and I sat down (well, I sat down – he couldn’t find a big enough chair) and had a long discussion about his sudden impact on the presidential race.  Although now in his mid-40’s, I found him almost child-like in his approach to his new found political status.  Having been thrust into the primetime limelight now by candidate Mitt Romney, many want to know just where Big Bird stands on the issues of the day.

I began by asking the international celebrity if he was surprised by his new political notoriety.  “I sure am”, he replied with that wide-eyed innocent look that has made him the target of ultra-conservatives everywhere.  “I’ve pretty much been talking to kids for four decades on Sesame Street.  Now all of a sudden there are adults who seem very concerned about me.  I think it’s very nice of them.”

When told that Gov. Romney wants to eliminate the federal funding which subsidizes PBS, the public network which produces Sesame Street and many other educational programs, Mr. Bird professed surprise.  “I know Mr. Romney is a very smart man, so he must be right to worry about how much money the country needs.  I’ve spent a lifetime helping kids learn to do things like count.  I don’t know if he learned from our show or not, but someone must have done a good job of teaching him”, the eight-foot tall character said earnestly.

The TV star said he understands the need for financial security.  “I certainly have built my own nest egg over the years”, Big Bird noted.  “But it’s really hard to believe our show and our network are hurting this great big country.  If this means I have to eat a little less seed every day, I’m willing to go along.”

“Still, I have to worry about my flock”, Bird told me.  “Maybe Mr. Romney and all the smart people around him could find somewhere else to save some money?  I mean, this can’t be because they don’t like me, or Bert and Ernie, or Elmo.  Mr. Romney even said in the debate that he loved me,” the feathered character smiled proudly.

When told some think his sponsoring network has a liberal bias, Big Bird just look puzzled.  “All my friends and I do all day long is talk to kids and teach them things”, he said in a hurt tone of voice.  “I don’t teach them to distrust, or discriminate, or hate.  I’m not a member of any political party.  I don’t campaign for any candidates.  I just talk to kids every day, sometimes to kids who really have no one else to talk to.  I’m no expert, but I think that’s a pretty good way to spend money”.

The bird said he is willing to forgo his own salary if that will help save his network.  “They tell me I have deep pockets, which I don’t understand since I really don’t have any pockets at all that I can find”, he said somewhat sheepishly.  “My wardrobe budget is pretty low, I don’t need any make-up, so it’s pretty clear I’m not just trying to feather my own nest”, he exclaimed.

When told that some of his network’s programming is considered controversial by some and causes discussion throughout the country, Big Bird just shrugged.  “Isn’t that what they are supposed to do?” he questioned.  “I tell all my kid friends that talking about things is good.  If we put stuff on the air that gets kids and adults talking, how can that be a bad thing?”

In the end, the iconic yellow bird says he just wants to get back to talking only to kids.  “They tend to make a lot more sense sometimes than adults do”, he noted wryly.

A wise bird, indeed.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at aninsidelook@aol.com and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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