National Endowment for the Arts

Obama Vows to Protect Big Bird, U.S. Ambassadors Not So Much

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I hate Big Bird.

FireDogLake's David Dayen objects to the lack of recently convicted CEOs in President Obama's new anti-Romney ad: 

There's only one thing that sticks out to me about this ad, though the casual viewer probably won't notice it. Let's look at that litany of Wall Street "criminals" and "gluttons of greed," which later get juxtaposed with Big Bird. You have Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay and Dennis Kozlowski. So two CEOs prosecuted and convicted by George W. Bush's Justice Department, and Madoff, whose son turned him in before Obama took office, in December 2008, and who pleaded guilty.

So the Obama campaign could not fill a list of three Wall Street criminals that the Obama Justice Department actually sent to jail. Heck, they couldn't fill a list of one!

This is despite Eric Holder telling students at Columbia University in February of this year that his Justice Department's record of success on fighting financial fraud crimes "has been nothing less than historic." But not historic enough that his boss could point to, well, one Wall Street criminal behind bars as a result of DoJ's actions.

That's painfully telling. Nobody from Bank of America or Wells Fargo or Citigroup or JPMorgan Chase or Goldman Sachs or Bear Stearns or Morgan Stanley or Merrill Lynch or even Countrywide or Ameriquest was available to stand in as a "glutton of greed" in this advertisement. Literally no major figure responsible for the financial crisis has gone to jail.

Actually, there has been a big Wall Street bust under Holder's DoJ: the 11-year sentence for "insider trading" of Raj Rajaratnam last year. Invonveniently, Rajaratnam (whose case began under the Bush administration) was a major Democratic donor, and his name probably isn't as familiar as Ken Lay's or Bernie Madoff's.

I have a different issue with this ad. The Obama State Department is either unable or unwilling to come clean about the circumstances of Ambassador Chris Stevens' death, and the president considers the obvious surge in Islamist terrorism a mere "bump in the road" unrelated to his policies. The economy is in a shambles and the debt is $16 trillion. Yet Big Bird is apparently going to be the main line of attack for an incumbent who said in 2008, "If you don't have a record to run on…you make a big election about small things." 

Granted, Mitt Romney may have invited this kind of japery by singling out such petty ideas for budget cuts while ignoring the landslide of entitlement and defense spending. And come to think of it, Big Bird is by definition not a small thing: It says so right in his name.