Romney’s ‘big’ blunderBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
US Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, bit off more than he could chew during his recent debate with his Democratic rival, President Barack Obama, when he declared that, in order to save money, his administration would cut government subsidy to PBS, the producer of educational programs like “Sesame Street.”
His resolute declaration elicited howls of protest from parents and educators, who value the Public Broadcasting System’s educational contributions through the years. In vowing to clip the wings of “Sesame Street’s” iconic cartoon character, Big Bird, Romney has inadvertently committed a Big Blunder that could prompt some parents not to vote for him.
The presidential candidate obviously chose the wrong target to dramatize his determination to reduce federal spending. It turns out that the government subsidy to PBS is only $450 million, or .01 percent of the nation’s annual budget, so a lot of negative vibes resulted from such relatively paltry “savings.”
Worse, Romney’s dramatic decision to opt for a really lean and mean administration inadvertently placed greater emphasis on the public’s perception of the “mean” factor in the equation—as in “mean-spirited.”
Worst of all, it betrayed his lack of real regard for the importance of education in the nation’s current life and future.
Educational radio-TV is seen by experts as a key solution for many educational woes, so the presidential candidate’s blanket curtailment of subsidy for it reveals his regrettably shortsighted, penny-pinching perspective.
Expectedly, public reaction to Romney’s “kill Big Bird” (or, at the very least, “put him on a starvation diet”) initiative was hot and heavy—at one point, 17,000 tweets per second were recorded in the giant, yellow mascot’s defense! So, we trust that the now beleaguered candidate will reconsider his options and give PBS and its biggest star a new lease on telecasting life.
Truth to tell, “Sesame Street” is such a good show that even some adults enjoy watching it—perhaps not to learn how to spell “rose” and “nose,” but to delight in the discoveries of the young, and the need for all of us to support, rather than abort, their development.
On the local radio-TV scene, we trust that Romney’s wrong move to boost Wall Street at the expense of “Sesame Street” will similarly make our political leaders more aware of the need to improve our educational prospects with the proactive and informed use of instructional programs. That very essential obligation is already mandated by law, but it’s observed more in the breach than in its enlightened execution.
Politicians should understand that, when properly implemented, educational TV can save us a lot of money, because it puts the best teachers in front of the TV cameras, so many more students across the land can benefit from their superior teaching skills.
In addition, good educational shows can make the best visual aids available to teachers and students, so that learning and mentoring are economically and yet excitingly enhanced!
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