Spare Us the Cutter

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 11 2012 7:36 PM

Spare Us the Cutter

DANVILLE, Ky. -- I was avoiding Twitter as I piloted a far-too-fancy Chevy Cruze down windy roads, so I missed the Gaffe Everybody's Talking About This Hour.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

"The entire reason that this has become the, you know, political topic it is is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan," said [Stephanie] Cutter, the president's deputy campaign manager. She was speaking to CNN's Brooke Baldwin.
"It's a big part of their stump speech," she continued, adding the GOP vice presidential candidate has "made a political circus all over this country of the terrible tragedy that happened in Libya."
Romney said the remark was an indication Obama and his team "fail to grasp the seriousness of the challenges that we face here in America."
"No, President Obama, it's an issue because this is the first time in 33 years that a United States ambassador has been assassinated," Romney said at his event in Ashville.
Advertisement

Can we groan audibly at Cutter while appreciating the different between "it's an issue" and "it's become, you know, a political topic"? If you watch the clip, Cutter -- who has no particular truck in foreign policy -- is visibly irritated that a soft segment on the debate has become a "what did the president know and when did he know it" session. Cutter refers to a debate, "which I hope we'll talk about." Her response to Libya was the campaign's response: To discuss this issue is to politicize it. Let the State Department handle it. It's not the sort of thing any challenger's campaign would accept from a White House.

But I'd guess that the focus on Libya, today, comes at a good time for the Obama campaign. Its avatar tonight: Joe Biden. He of the Foreign Relations Committee, he of the happy zingers directed at the GOP foreign policy establishment. If Libya comes up, he, not Barack Obama, is the person Democrats want to answer this. If this is the first question of the night, directed at Biden, it can be dealt with in a way that makes irrelevant the various Cutters of the cable conversation.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.