Mitt Romney is getting his nose rubbed today in one of the most durable memes of the 2012 campaign, his hapless dog Seamus strapped to the roof of the family van during a long vacation road trip.
Only it’s not the dog this time. It’s Big Bird. Memes aren't memes, you know, unless they adapt.
In Miami this morning, the United Teachers of Dade along with a merry gang of 47 percenters, including senior citizens, parents and an organization called Dogs Against Romney, will strap a Big Bird effigy to the top of a van and display it at teachers' union headquarters, 2200 Biscayne Boulevard.
The Big Bird on the Roof tour began Thursday in Orlando and Tampa and will visit West Palm Beach this afternoon.
Big Bird entered the campaign iconography last week when Romney, pressed during his debate with President Obama to specify the budget cuts that would balance his proposed tax reductions, vowed to zero out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
CPB channels federal funding to Big Bird's network, PBS, and the rest of the American public broadcasting system. It's expecting an appropriation of $445 million in 2013, which Romney critics calculate as one hundredth of 1 percent of the federal budget.
It's a tiny amount of deficit reduction, argues Dogs Against Romney, but a huge metaphor for the carefree cruelty they attribute to the Republican presidential candidate. Just like the dog on the roof of the van.
"The animal abuse and the inanity point to one scary individual," reads a press release statement attributed to Rusty the spokesdog. "Now it seems clear that he is more than willing to do away with a defenseless bird who has contributed so much to society just to score some political points."
Romney said after the debate he doubts the loss of federal funding would end Big Bird's career. PBS, he told the Des Moines Register, "will do just fine whether or not there's a federal subsidy." He said the producers of "Sesame Street" agree that Big Bird is a profitable asset and "doesn’t need the federal subsidy."