Romney off target hunting Big Bird

Opinion column

Mac Gordon

Mac Gordon

I came to know Big Bird and his Muppet friends due entirely to a former work station. So trust me when I opine that Jim Henson’s characters are all about education and almost zero about federal spending.

Republican Mitt Romney said in his first debate with President Obama that if elected he would take a sharp knife to such programming. He used Big Bird as the scapegoat for the supposed spending spree by the public broadcasting network.

According to hosts of federal spending followers, this is the amount of money that is assigned to each American for support of public broadcasting:

$1.35. Twenty-seven nickels a year per citizen per year.

Is such a campaign of frugality enough to carry Mr. Romney to the White House? He may well win the election, but it will not be because of his snide attack on Big Bird and, by association, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.

Jim Henson, who created the Muppets and died in 1993 after building an entertainment empire rivaling that of Walt Disney, would not take offense to Romney. It’s far too laughable.

By the time I arrived in 1978 in the small town of Leland, Miss., to run a weekly newspaper, Henson had long since departed that Delta cotton town where he had been raised. His father, Paul Henson, was an agronomist with the Department of Agriculture’s vast research farm in the heart of one of the world’s most prominent crop growing regions.

The Henson family for several years occupied a cottage on the research facility’s campus. Flowing nearby and then on to Leland two miles away was Deer Creek, a picturesque stream home to all sorts of creatures.

It was on the banks of that little waterway and in the Promethean mind of the young Jim Henson that Big Bird, Miss Piggy, Kermit, Rowlf, Scooter and Dr. Teeth’s band came to be. He and his closest friend, Kermit Scott, spent countless hours along those banks playing with those critters.

This creative energy came flowing back to Henson in his late teens and early 20’s while a student at the University of Maryland (his father had been transferred to a research unit in that state). Henson began formalizing his characters, one he named Kermit the Frog in honor of his best boyhood buddy. Kermit Scott, who held a doctorate of philosophy and taught at Yale and Purdue universities, has gained a modicum of fame as the distinguished frog’s namesake.

Leland has capitalized on the notoriety of Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog and the other Muppets about as much as a little town can. I am proud that I was an early backer of the Jim Henson/Kermit the Frog Museum that today attracts thousands of visitors to its Deer Creek location along U.S. 82. The Henson family has been very generous to the facility with donations of early Muppet artifacts and financial backing.

When Leland celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1982, Jim Henson wrote a letter to the newspaper expressing his love for the little town that nurtured his mind and gave him a solid “early childhood education.”

Mr. Romney should be ashamed for attempting to sully an institution that has provided millions of American children with the same schooling.

Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at macmarygordon@gmail.com.


Sister_Ruby 3 years, 1 month ago

Mac.....please go find E.J. Dionne and get yourself in a Fiat Smallmobile and run yourselves off a Bridge into the Bay and disappear forever!!!!!!!! You Both Have Opinions that make me want to PUKE!!!!!!!! In fact I DO PUKE every time I read your CRAP!!!!!

How's that for super Caps and Exclamation Points?????? All those that follow me yet still are Un-Believers? But wait Chullrenns.......there is Still Time To Get Right!!


Jax 3 years, 1 month ago

Amen, Sister!! You should do all of your commenting just after midnight! Unleash!!


ObjectiveEyes 3 years, 1 month ago

Common sense ain't so common anymore. Romney was obvioulsy alluding to the fact that the federal government spends billions a year on things they have no business spending on. Take a minute and google "Tom Coburn's Waste Book." According to his estimation, we waste $19 billion a year. $450,000,000 (the annual PBS subsidy) may be a small number when we are in the billions/trillions, but, when you add it all up, you get to some REAL money at some point. We've got to cut spending!

Eliminating the subsidy to PBS certainly won't cook Big Bird's goose!


alleebrin 3 years, 1 month ago

Exactly, Objective! If the federal monies were spent wisely, the country could afford Big Bird and the whole aviary! Romney knows that! I sure hope the electoral college will catch on...!!


USTPC 3 years, 1 month ago

Another attempt to divert attention away from real issues. Oh no...Romney threatened to take Big Bird off the air. No he didn't, he said the GOVERNMENT subsidy should be eliminated as a cost cutting measure in order to reduce the deficet. Eliminating the subsidy just means that either the PBS cuts costs elsewhere or PRIVATE donations increase. Now there is a thought...if you want Big Bird on tv then support it with your money.


Bulldawg 3 years, 1 month ago

Exactly, people need to support PUBLIC televison themselves. This concept is why it is called public television. I guess this is all the ammunition that the dems have to say that Romney hates Big Bird. The whole idea of government support of PBS is just absurd.


Mr_Heatmiser 3 years, 1 month ago

The US government subsidizing PBS is like someone with a $100,000 salary and a $600,000 mortgage, who is putting $50,000 on his credit cards every year, subscribing to HBO.


gotanyfacts 3 years, 1 month ago

Mac, take a drive north a few miles to the lake at Fort Gaines. Look at that huge body of water. Where did it come from? Drop by tiny drop from the sky!


tywebb 3 years, 1 month ago

"$1.35. Twenty-seven nickels a year per citizen per year" Mac, Mac, Mac......you do know that EVERY citizen doesn't contribute, right? If they don't have a job (children), are unemployed (adults), or get paid in cash (servers, farmhands, prostitutes, etc.) then they are NOT contributing. It's the working people who actually pay taxes who are supporting it. time for my money to go elsewhere......like back in my pocket.


alleebrin 3 years, 1 month ago

Mac Gordon, get real! And vote REPUBLICAN - Big Bird will thank you!


chinaberry25 3 years, 1 month ago

Ever since his articles have been in this paper, he has done nothing but stir up trouble. He was all against the Rebel flag. Wrote numerous articles, placed his email which was not a viable email. I would never waste a second reading his trash and the paper could find a lot better folks to include in it.


blacksheep 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, China, I can tell you're not paying him any attention.


Cartman 3 years, 1 month ago

This article completely misses the point. Romney's statement had absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the Muppets. He used Big Bird as an example of the acid test for spending cuts. If it wasn't worth borrowing money from China to fund it - it needed to be cut.


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