"The entire reason that this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."
Thus, Stephanie Cutter, President Obama's deputy campaign manager, speaking on CNN about an armed attack on the 9/11 anniversary that left a U.S. consulate a smoking ruin and killed four diplomatic staff, including the first American ambassador to be murdered in a third of a century. To discuss this event is apparently to "politicize" it and to distract from the real issues the American people are concerned about. For example, Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki, speaking on board Air Force One on Thursday:
"There's only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane."
She's right! The United States is the first nation in history whose democracy has evolved to the point where its leader is provided with a wide-body transatlantic jet in order to campaign on the vital issue of public funding for sock puppets. Sure, Caligula put his horse in the Senate, but it was a real horse. At Ohio State University, the rapper will.i.am introduced the President by playing the Sesame Street theme tune, which, oddly enough, seems more apt presidential walk-on music for the Obama era than "Hail To The Chief."
Obviously, Miss Cutter is right: A healthy mature democracy should spend its quadrennial election on critical issues like the Republican Party's war on puppets rather than attempting to "politicize" the debate by dragging in stuff like foreign policy, national security, the economy and other obscure peripheral subjects.
To "politicize" means "to give a political character to." It is a reductive term, capturing the peculiarly shrunken horizons of politics: "Gee, they nuked Israel. D'you think that will hurt us in Florida?" So media outlets fret that Benghazi could be "bad" for Obama – by which they mean he might be hitting the six-figure lecture circuit four years ahead of schedule. But for Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, it's real bad. They're dead, over, gonesville.