Follow That Bird

10.04.12

Q&A: Where Does Big Bird Stand on Politics?

Sesame Street’s cherished towering Muppet got dragged into the presidential election—but where does he stand on the issues? Kevin Fallon breaks down Big Bird’s political leanings.

Big Bird may not wear his politics on his sleeve like some other children’s television show stars—we’re looking at you, Dora—but he certainly hasn’t been quiet on the issues in his 43 years on Sesame Street. The yellow fowl jumped into the presidential race on Wednesday night when Mitt Romney said he would slash funding for Sesame Street’s network, PBS, but insisted he “loved Big Bird,” but he wasn’t willing to “borrow money from China” to keep PBS running.

Immediately after Romney’s comments, Twitter exploded with an inferno of backlash, jokes, and memes in support of the cherished children’s program and its towering flavicomous star. The result? After a 90-minute debate that covered health care, jobs, taxes, and education, the watercooler Thursday is instead buzzing about Big Bird—and a fake attack ad has already gone viral. But does he really have a place in the political conversation? Here, all you need to know about Big Bird and politics.

Since when has Big Bird been political?

He may not have run for office or ever endorsed a candidate, but Big Bird wears his political inclinations as obviously as, well, neon-colored feathers. For one, he’s concerned about the state of the health-care system, which is evident to anyone who views this clip of his visit to the hospital.

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For a bird, Big Bird boasts an admirable amount of foreign-relations experience, having embarked on goodwill trips to both China and Japan.

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He also is committed to education reform—have you seen his show? Brought to you by the letters D-U-H.

What are his platforms?

Looks like there is no fight for Cookie Monster’s cookies. Big Bird cooed appreciatively as Michelle Obama stopped by Sesame Street to teach kids how to plant their own vegetables, to improve their diets. The first lady appeared on the program at the height of her “Let’s Move!” initiative, which encourages healthy eating and fitness—a campaign that angered conservatives who viewed it as an attempt to implement a “nanny state” on innocent children just innocently jonesing for a Happy Meal. Applauding a garden of vegetables may not seem like a particular controversial stance, but apparently there are those who fantasize about roasting Big Bird and serving him on an all-you-can-eat platter after the episode.

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Has he hobnobbed with other politicos?

Let’s just say it: Big Bird is a bit of a first lady whore. The yellow giant has essentially served as a doormat for first ladies' agendas over the years, allowing himself to serve as a weapon in Laura Bush’s crusade for children’s reading, a cause Big Bird abetted when the former first lady’s mother-in-law and White House predecessor Barbara Bush championed it on Sesame Street years before.

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Big Bird was also all too happy to let President Obama introduce his appearance at the Capitol Fourth concert in 2009, and hasn’t even been above rubbing elbows with fake politicians, as proven by his appearance on The West Wing.

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Isn’t Sesame Street a show for children? Why do adults care?

Ah, but haven’t you heard? Not only are children the future, they predict the future. Wee ones polled by Scholastic News have correctly predicted the winner of every election since 1940 with only two exceptions, the contests in 1948 and 1960. Perhaps that’s why Mitt seems to have a hit on poor Big Bird—in 2008, Obama trounced McCain in the polls 57 percent to 39 percent. Is Sesame Street teaching young children to be liberals?

How is Big Bird handling the political spotlight?

Like a pro. Rather than let all the attention ruffle his feathers, the 8-foot-2 Muppet fowl is rising above the din and choosing not engage in political cockfights. Speaking exclusively through Sesame Street’s official Twitter account, Big Bird only gave a tongue-in-beak comment: “My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?”