The five problems with the Big Bird Obama ad

There are a number of things wrong with this ad.

First, Big Bird, whatever I may think of him, is a bipartisan creature. Minnesota voters, in a Public Policy Polling poll, regarded him favorably by a 61 percent to 7 percent margin. Even among Republicans, he had a favorable rating of 48 percent (compared to 11 percent unfavorable). This is nothing to shake a stick at, at least not a very big stick.

Second, really? Big Bird? After a debate that even “Saturday Night Live” concedes the president lost handily, the campaign opts for an ad that reminds everyone of it? When you are crushed by the debate equivalent of a giant boulder, to the point that Al Gore worries that you were affected by the altitude, and also your opponent said something about Big Bird, perhaps do not allude to Big Bird. It brings it all rushing back, the way that biting into a madeleine reminded Proust of his childhood debate losses to Mitt Romney.

Third, and most importantly, this is a meme. Not an ad. And if the Obama campaign can’t tell the difference between the Type of Thing You Let The Internet Run Amok With On Its Own and the Type of Thing That Makes A Good Official Campaign Ad, it may not deserve its long-held reputation for Web savvy. Hasn’t the Internet mocked the heck out of this already? Isn’t there already a Twitter account? What is gained by this, other than to take a joke that was old a week ago and inflict it on people it will not sway?

Fourth, even “Sesame Street” wants it removed. Its creators issued a statement noting:

Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down.

And finally, the spot doesn’t even state the president’s position on Big Bird. Go Big Bird or go home! If you want him in an ad, the least you can do is note that you support public broadcasting. The only real message the ad offers is that “There are a lot of serious financial issues to talk about, yet Mitt Romney is going on about frivolous nonsense like Big Bird.” Odd that the ad is doing the same thing.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".

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