After President Obama's campaign released this ad, the Republicans are on a little bit of imbalance mode this morning. The Romney campaign called the ad "troubling." John McCain appeared on MSNBC to whine about it.
As even the Obama campaign indicated, this ad isn't airing in any battleground states. No, that isn't its purpose. Its purpose is to cause a stir, get the media and people talking about it. It's been getting tons of free airtime on our cable news channels, and when that happens, the campaign doesn't really need to spend money putting the ad on the air to get the intended message implanted into voters' minds. What's leaving conservatives baffled why Obama would do this, and just what the message is.
Actually, I suspect they understand quite well what the message is. And they know Obama is beating them on the message and the optics. The central message of this ad, of course, is NOT Big Bird. It's Big Banks. The ad easily highlights what really is troubling in this campaign: Mitt Romney's focus on cutting public television - which is a drop in the ocean of the federal budget - while insisting that big banks must be released from the shackles of regulation (because, you know, what could go wrong?). It conveys the message that Mitt Romney is the kind of extreme conservative that will end public television and children's programming rather than get serious with Wall Street's follies. He is, after all, one of them.
The ad tells, in less than thirty short seconds, the real problem with Mitt Romney's tax plan: he plans to protect the special tax treatment of the earnings of people on Wall Street - in the form of special capital gains rates and carried interest - and protect the low, low tax rates for the rich like himself while upending public services and programs that serve the needy and open doors of opportunity.
The OFA ad uses humor to deliver a killer blow to Romney: it makes the claim, and cements it in the public mind that Mitt Romney is not a serious candidate. At least, that he's not a candidate with serious plans to address the country's problems. He's asked at a presidential debate to tell us what he would cut in order to balance the budget, and he comes up with PBS. Nothing to say about how he'd reform the tax code, nothing about what big programs he would cut. Just, PBS. Something that is worth 1/100th of 1% of the federal budget. In one 30-second spot, the Obama campaign has shown that Mitt Romney is not a serious candidate; that he's a pandering fool.
And that, my friends, is why the Right is apoplectic over this ad.