For people who are prosperous and have lots of options in their lives, the cultural programming and children's shows on PBS are like frosting on the cake, and Romney's slap at them were as silly as attacking frosting. Who doesn't like frosting?
But there are people without a lot of resources for whom this programming isn't the frosting. It is the cake. And for them, the threat to cut federal support for PBS was an existential threat. NYT columnist Charles Blow spoke eloquently for them in this Op-Ed.
It’s almost impossible to overstate how instrumental PBS has been in my development and instruction. We were poor. My mother couldn’t afford day care, and I didn’t go to preschool. My great-uncle took care of me all day. I could watch one hour of television: PBS.
When I was preparing for college and took the ACT, there were harder reading passages toward the back of the test. Many had scientific themes — themes we hadn’t covered at my tiny high school in my rural town. But I could follow the passages’ meanings because I had watched innumerable nature shows on PBS.
I never went to art or design school. In college, I was an English major before switching to mass communications. Still, I went on to become the design director of The New York Times and the art director of National Geographic magazine . . . I don’t really expect Mitt Romney to understand the value of something like PBS to people, like me, who grew up in poor, rural areas and went to small schools. These are places with no museums or preschools or after-school educational programs. There wasn’t money for travel or to pay tutors.
I honestly don’t know where I would be in the world without PBS.Mitt Romney seems to think of himself as a self-made man, even though he grew up with all sorts of advantages most people don't have. That's not his fault. But it can make his thoughtless callousness toward people who have had to struggle in life kind of hard to take.