The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

Over the course of the primary battle, the Obama campaign effectively injected a somewhat subtle meme about Hillary Clinton into the ether, namely that she'll do or say anything to win (which had the benefit of being a pre-existing meme to begin with.) Whether it was a post-Nevada campaign memo accusing the Clinton team of dirty tricks or a pre-California "truth squad" ready to pre-but what were sure to be the Clintons' many forthcoming lies, the Obama campaign never came out and accused Hillary Clinton of being a liar, but instead just hinted at it until her own actions seemed to reinforce the meme and the media picked it up as their own. It was pretty masterful, actually, considering many people to this day still insist that Obama never attacked Hillary Clinton.

As I've written before, team Obama seems to be weaving the same magic with McCain with their "confused" meme. Every time McCain makes a gaffe they say he's "confused," the subtle implication being that "he's too old to be president." John McCain has cooperated wonderfully in reinforcing the meme, not only with his recent insistence that Iraq and Pakistan share a border, but also that Czechoslovakia is still a country. He did it again and this time gave an uncomfortable mea culpa.

But while McCain has played his age for humor, the media has largely considered connecting McCain's gaffes and his age taboo. The sheer volume and frequency of McCain's errors may have rendered that deference obsolete.

Cue The Politico, which in a piece today finally addresses the elephant in the room, as it were, vis a vis McCain's numerous confusions.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said "Iraq" on Monday when he apparently meant "Afghanistan", adding to a string of mixed-up word choices that is giving ammunition to the opposition.

Just in the past three weeks, McCain has also mistaken "Somalia" for "Sudan," and even football's Green Bay Packers for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ironically, the errors have been concentrated in what should be his area of expertise: foreign affairs.

And then Mike Allen and Jim Vandehai go there:

McCain will turn 72 the day after Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) accepts his party's nomination for president at the age of 47, calling new attention to the sensitive issue of McCain's advanced age three days before the start of his own convention. [...]

McCain's mistakes raise a serious, if uncomfortable question: Are the gaffes the result of his age? And what could that mean in the Oval Office?

As someone who is less than squeamish about using McCain's age against him, I'm glad to see this getting some play in the media.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, age, John McCain (all tags)

Comments

51 Comments

I was just talking about this today

with a friend who's a disaffected Republican. She worked on Senator Hagel's staff at one time and used to love McCain. She is a two-time Bush voter (reluctantly the second time). She is voting for Obama. She said she can't stand to listen to McCain anymore. He didn't used to talk that way. Partly she's fed up with the war in Iraq, but she also wonders if McCain is not as sharp as he used to be.

I have mixed feelings about using McCain's age as a campaign issue, but I genuinely think he's not as quick on his feet as he was during the 2000 campaign. But I wasn't following that as closely as I am now, so maybe the media just covered up his gaffes better then.

by desmoinesdem 2008-07-22 01:22PM | 0 recs
Re: I was just talking about this today

In 2000, McCain the candidate missed a fairly low number of senate votes (198, 29.5%). In 2008, McCain the candidate has missed 394, or 63%. Granted, Obama and Clinton have missed quite a few as well, but they had a primary season that lasted months! They kept traveling around the country by necessity and were just BARELY able to head back to Washington every so often.

Is McCain's age an issue? Yes, it really is.

by vcalzone 2008-07-22 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: I was just talking about this today
Thanks for posting this Todd. I read the article yesterday. I of course am happpy that McCain is proving to be a weak candidate. It made me wonder
though is this the best we can do? A 71 year old
man who is making so many mistakes has a chance to be president
by Politicalslave 2008-07-22 03:17PM | 0 recs
age as a campaign issue

This isn't about age as a campaign issue. It's about incompetence as a campaign issue. The reason for it doesn't matter.

by Beren 2008-07-22 03:13PM | 0 recs
Yes, The Reason Actually Does Matter

There is a very good chance that Ronald Reagan was already suffering dementia while he was president.  If McCain's mind is slipping, the slide can be precipitous.  If you have ever watched that happen to a parent or grandparent (I watched it happen to my grandmother) you would know how terrifying it would be to have someone like that with a finger on the nuclear trigger.

Check out the text of Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment:

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

Can you imagine how this process would actually play itself out?  A fight between the president and vice president over whether the president is competent?  With Congress ultimately deciding the issue?  

McCain would have to have gone completely around the bend for the vice president and cabinet to even begin this process.  Given McCain's documented hair trigger temper and lack of self control -- even in high school he was known as McNasty -- visualize how many bad, horrific things could happen between the time he starts to "lose his facilities" and the time it gets bad enough for the VP to step in.

Fucking scarry and very relevant that he may be growing "confused" these days.

by kaleidescope 2008-07-22 07:50PM | 0 recs
he may be growing "confused" these days.

In other words, another way he's just like Bush.

by Beren 2008-07-22 08:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

The CW, in assuming that John McCain's foreign policy expertise is beyond reproach, has virtually no choice but to explain John McCain's howlers in terms of senility.  Dubya said things as bad or worse, but the difference was that people just thought he didn't know what he was talking about.

The press doesn't regard McCain as stupid, ergo there must be some other explanation.  He's "confused": the most mild word you can possibly use, and even that has the connotation of advancing age.

I don't know if this is brilliant framing on the part of the Obama campaign so much as it is the fact that McCain keeps saying idiotic things, and he's being hung by his own reputation as a foreign policy wonk.  David Plouffe isn't forcing John McCain to refer to non-existent countries any more than Paul Begala made Bob Dole fall off the podium.

by Jess81 2008-07-22 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

I go back and forth on this issue and what I have come to is this- there are people of McCain's age with the mental acuity, memory, and temperament to be President. He is just not one of them.

by JDF 2008-07-22 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

"But I wasn't following that as closely as I am now, so maybe the media just covered up his gaffes better then."

Oh, I did follow McCain very closely, I even saw him here in Seattle during a 2000 campaign stop, and I do think he has changed.

He never used to go for the bad jokes so often, nor did he seem to spend so much time pondering his answers.

I too have trepidation making this a key issue, and the Obama camp has to tread lightly on this one IMO.

But, I'm really wondering if McCain does one of these confuses Sudan for Somalia moments in the debates, if he really does get burned by it.

by WashStateBlue 2008-07-22 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

I don't think most people recognize McCain as being in his 70's because they don't know he didn't enter combat in Vietnam until he was 30.  We generally think of Vietnam vets as guys now in the 60's and McCain doesn't look his age.   Also, those years of the "Maverick" label gave him sort of a youthful spin and everyone thinks of him as prematurely white haired.

It may not move the impassioned, but I think the undecideds will be effected once his age becomes more common knowledge.  76 is pretty damn old to be running the country.  And the more he flubs, the more relevant his age becomes.  

by grassrootsorganizer 2008-07-22 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

What's interesting is that this is an argument that doesn't necessarily come from one direction.  My 80-year-old grandmother is convinced that McCain is too old to be president.  I would not be surprised if others from that generation, based on their own experience with aging, reach the same conclusion.

by rfahey22 2008-07-22 01:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

My 76 year old father also agrees that McCain is too old to be president.

by batgirl71 2008-07-22 02:00PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

I'm in my mid sixties just. Most of my friends are too. They all think McCain is too old. They like him, I like him, but even when you're as energetic as me you know 72 is just too old to become president. Churchill was 65 when he became prime minister and he put on a fantastic spurt for three or four years but by 1944 he was tired as all the memoirs of the period attest. Bush has aged 20 years in the past eight and he's asleep at the stick! This is a ball breaking job. Age is going to be a huge issue as the campaign unfolds.  

by ottovbvs 2008-07-22 02:10PM | 0 recs
hypocrites!

if i said, my black friend, says obama is not qualified to be president?

is that ok?

but it is ok for mccain's age?

Is there any principle here on the far left?

support/oppose mccain based on substance.

not on gaffes.
not on his age.

I support obama because i generally agree more with obama than mccain.

I'm voting obama because i'm a dem.

this topic is embarassing.

by yellowdem1129 2008-07-22 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: hypocrites!

Yellow dem don't you do logic. Is age totally irrelevant in a presidential candidate. Of course not. It's highly relevant. During the second half of his second term Reagan was clearly losing it probably because of the first Alzheimer symptoms. If you think none of this matters you are out to lunch.  

by ottovbvs 2008-07-22 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: hypocrites!

If you were worried about Obama catching sickle cell anemia, I wouldn't call you racist. A worrywart, maybe. Legitimate biological and medical concerns are fair game.

by vcalzone 2008-07-22 02:38PM | 0 recs
Are you really saying

you are unaware of the medical evidence showing that our mental and physical capabilities diminish with age?

Really? You never heard of that?

by GT 2008-07-22 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: hypocrites!

Yellowdem. Judging from your past diaries which I encourage others to look at. You don't seem like you really support Obama. You and strongerthandirt another Obama "supporter" seem to be the only ones "embarrassed" by this diary.

by Politicalslave 2008-07-22 07:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

As you get older 99% of us are not as sharp and do not want to admit it. Old people know this so when they say McCain is too old they are right.

by Politicalslave 2008-07-22 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age
Apologies Todd but I find the Political article insulting refering to almost aegist treatment.. I know I am supposed to support democrats but not such  silly articles.. on the contrary I am sure all of us would be up in arms if any article would claim that some of Obama's gaffes would be because of his race.. Infact I would be the first to post a diary strongly condemning such an article.. I hope you can see why the article is inappropriate and does not deserve front page discussion..
please dont troll rate me but think about what the article has said and its implications..
by gladiatorsback 2008-07-22 01:31PM | 0 recs
Here's the difference

and I write this as no spring chicken myself.

Age really DOES effect memory and stamina, perhaps not in everyone to the same degree but the vast majority to some degree, often to the point of disability.

It effects one's ability to learn new tasks and perform under pressure, especially if one's health is not great.

Race has nothing to do with mental acuity and abilities -- past a point, age most often does.

by grassrootsorganizer 2008-07-22 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Here's the difference

i would entertain your logic, but on any other topic here:

race
gender
sexual orientation

people won't entertain logic about why something like this should matter.

So be consistent and drop it.

Me personally, who cares?
Anything is possible, so let's see what happens.

I'm voting obama anyway.

by yellowdem1129 2008-07-22 02:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Here's the difference

No, this is not the same. Why? Because age is universal. It crosses all races, all genders, all human beings. Would you let a child be president? No?

How can you say that age isn't an issue when there is an AGE LIMIT in the frickin' Constitution?

by vcalzone 2008-07-22 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Here's the difference
Add stubborn to that and you have world war three.
McCain is the sacrificial Republican.
by Politicalslave 2008-07-22 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

What bs. I'm in my mid sixties, incredibly energetic, still sail all the time, real hands in dirt gardener, but for someone of 72 to become president is ridiculous.

by ottovbvs 2008-07-22 01:38PM | 0 recs
as evidence

consider all the "before and after" pics of presidents over the years and how the position aged them.  Even Bush, who spent the bulk of his time on vacation, looks 20 years older.

Unless the idea here is for McCain to do a slow-paced sort of Dwightish presidency, the job is going to chew him up.  And can we afford right now, with ten different forest fires blazing, a president who has to "take it easy"?  

People will be forced to consider a President Romney (shudder)

by grassrootsorganizer 2008-07-22 01:45PM | 0 recs
Re: as evidence

"People will be forced to consider a President Romney (shudder)"

ARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

It will take the rest of the day for me to get rid of the image of Mittens and his sons on the Whitehouse lawn that just popped into my head!

by WashStateBlue 2008-07-22 01:50PM | 0 recs
Re: as evidence

Picture them playing football or something. It's REALLY creepy.

by vcalzone 2008-07-22 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age
I have given it some thought and in this case McCain is too old. Obama is already going white from the pressure as most Presidents do. What will
happen to McCain?
by Politicalslave 2008-07-22 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

This is a huge issue. My circle is basically comfortably off, middle aged, Republicans. Basically, they want out of Iraq. Basically they think McCain is way way too old ..... and this from dashing 65 year olds. Basically, they are concerned the Repugs are going to tamper with social security and Medicare. Basically, they are feeling the bite of inflation although most have retirement incomes of well over $100k a year. Basically, they'd be quite happy to have Obama at a cocktail party. McCain is f#@$%

by ottovbvs 2008-07-22 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

I start thinking this too a couple of weeks ago with the sheer amount of gaffes he does, he has to be something, either he is actually going to be a moron like Bush, or its this.

Also now thanks to Poltiico, the countdown to when this hits the MSM is on.

just a few more gaffes and then the MSM will pick it up, refrecening their story and all the blogs talking about it, and then comparing that to any gaffes he does between today and that day to come.

should start a pool to see when it happens, because it will happen

by TruthMatters 2008-07-22 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

And, once that becomes a accepted meme, look at how hard it is to get it undone?

Remember Al Gore invented the Internet? Or Love Story?

The media literally defined Gore as a serial exaggerator, and he never could shake it.

It the MSM locks on this with McCain, good luck trying to shake it.

So, now I go back to the diarists assumption, that Axelrod and the campaign are trying to play that into the media's meme?

WOW, I kind of hate it, it's almost Rovian, but I don't know if I would care HOW we win, given the fact the next President will appoint in my opinion 3, not 2 USSC.

I believe the rumors that Scalia has health issues....

by WashStateBlue 2008-07-22 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

I believe the rumors that Scalia has health issues....

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

by ottovbvs 2008-07-22 02:03PM | 0 recs
Teflon layer

I'm really starting to think McCain has a Teflon coating as none of these gaffes have hurt him in the polls.

by esconded 2008-07-22 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Teflon layer
Good point but wait until the debates and Election day. I agree when you look at some of the polls McCain isn't doing badly. But the debates will rip McCain apart and we will punish the Republicans for their 8 years of ............
Sad to say McCain does have the support of SOME people who are not ready for a young black President.
by Politicalslave 2008-07-22 05:07PM | 0 recs
I hope

it's just a matter of time before his "base" in the media and people his own age see that he's just not good, either on the issues (Social Security is a "disgrace"), or personally.  The sooner that sinks in, the better.

by msrpotus 2008-07-22 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

Since it's inception... Politico has tried to pass for neutral...we know better.

From FOX-Rush-Freepers...
There is a "cut and run" going on regarding McCain....
Don't get me wrong,; there will be plenty of anti-obama shit...

THEY...deep down know this could very well be a blowout. None of them are willing to go "all in" for McCain. We are willing(even with reasonable questions)to go "all in" for Obama....

I look forward to more disclaimers from Politico...Drudge..etc...etc...etc...

by nogo postal 2008-07-22 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

LOL, He is one big Gaff this election season. There is one site I go to to see all his gaffs they have a video line up of most of em. Its

http://www.mccanes.com    < Videos of all of McCains Gaffs., also new video of McCain falling asleep on Conan Obrien.

They just put the video of him falling asleep on the conan Obrien show. I laughed pretty hard. Cant believe the news hasnt covered this more. I found another site that has all of the Romney attack videos, The videos Romney used to attack McCain during the primary. It would be a huge mistake to pick a romney VP. Theres a video of Romney saying McCain is dishonest. Wow. A Romney VP would be a Present with a Big Bow on it for the DNC. the site with the Romney attack ads is

http://www.hotpres.com          <Romney attack ads on McCain, Video of Romney Calling mccain dishonest.</p>

I wonder how many Gaffs McCain would have if he became pres.?

by charleslawlesss 2008-07-22 02:04PM | 0 recs
Take a geog quiz

While I think McCain is pathetic, fair is fair.  Here are ten questions on geography, with a bonus.  I give the historic name and you give the current name.  Answers below.  No peeking.

1/ Yugoslavia is now  --- (name at least five)

2/ The Soviet Union is now -  (name at least 12)

3/ Burma is now

4/ Ceylon is now    

5/ Dutch East Indies (Netherlands East Indies) is now   

6/ East Pakistan, a former province of Pakistan from 1955 and 1971, is now

7/ British Honduras is now

8/ French West Indies is now

9/ British Guiana is now

10/ Dutch Guiana (Netherlands Guiana)  is now

11/ Historically, Bohemia was its name; it is now

I won't even try Africa - see more at

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/hi st_country_names.htm#Asia

duh dee duh

scroll, scroll

[whistle]

ANSWERS

1/ Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia

2/ Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russian Federation (Russia), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

3/Myanmar

4/ Sri Lanka

5/ Indonesia

6/ Bangladesh

7/ Belize

8/ Guadeloupe and Martinique,

9/ Guyana

10/ Suriname

11/  Czech Republic

 

by strongerthandirt 2008-07-22 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Take a geog quiz

And in which of those countries are we currently engaged in a military occupation, or is Osama bin Laden currently located, or is there a military dictatorship that is central to the war on terror?

One should hope that the next president knows that Iraq and Pakistan do not share a border.

by rfahey22 2008-07-22 02:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Take a geog quiz

No I couldn't give all the successor Republics for the Soviet Union only about half of them. All the rest no problem. What is this intended to prove. It has nothing to do with McCain's senior moments.

by ottovbvs 2008-07-22 03:00PM | 0 recs
While I think McCain is pathetic

We'll try to remember that the next time you repeat his talking points against Obama.

by Beren 2008-07-22 03:18PM | 0 recs
wow! goos thing I'm not running for president!

by grassrootsorganizer 2008-07-22 03:45PM | 0 recs
damn old fingers!

gooD thing I'm not running for president!

by grassrootsorganizer 2008-07-22 03:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Take a geog quiz

Add this question to your list. ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?

by Politicalslave 2008-07-22 05:10PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

Funny how a few people here find age has no matter or link to competency, trying to deny the facts of life via a strawman ageism complaint.  Here is a fact, my girl is an optometrist, most of her patients are old, if their vision has deteriorated too much over time, she is required by law and ethics to recommend they lose their license as they are a huge liability on the road.  Time deteriorates some or all of the senses and physical and mental faculties; we are like bananas, we all rot over time, some slower/faster than others.  If there is evidence of deteriorating competency due to age, it should be addressed and analyzed.  

by KLRinLA 2008-07-22 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

see below

by soyousay 2008-07-22 05:36PM | 0 recs
age - fair assessment...

...Tell me, what is this gaffe linked to?

"Well, let me -- let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel's. It will be a strong friend of Israel's under a McCain government -- administration. It will be a strong friend of Israel's under an Obama administration. So that policy is not going to change." http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/c ontent/article/2008/07/22/AR200807220107 9.html

How about this one?

Sen. Barack Obama must be drinking some of the same Seattle water as secessionist Mayor Greg Nickels. In Beaverton, Ore., he told the crowd that he'd visited "57 states" with "one left to go." http://www.crosscut.com/alaska/14104/57+ states+&mdash%3B+and+the+Soviet+of+W ashington/

by soyousay 2008-07-22 05:36PM | 0 recs
A Debate Point

Obama can ask McCain at a debate, "Have you always been this confused?"

by kaleidescope 2008-07-22 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: The Politico Links McCain's Gaffes And His Age

The sheer number of gaffes is starting to become something even the corporate-bound news orgs can't ignore.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/07/2 2/politics/politico/main4281173.shtml

by Bob Miller 2008-07-23 03:00AM | 0 recs
Age or Health?

I don't think we should assume that a 72-year-old is particularly likely to be confused, but insist on digging deeper into his medical history.  I can't help but wonder if McCain hasn't had some mini strokes in the last few months.

by catherineD 2008-07-23 09:24AM | 0 recs

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