McCain Gaffe Makes Him Seem Older Than Ever

mccain
"Meanwhile, over in the USSR…" Photo: Getty Images

John McCain has twice this week (and it's only Wednesday!) referred to Czechoslovakia — which was split in 1993 — when (we think…) he meant the Czech Republic. McCain has a long history with this particular gaffe. During the 2000 election none other than George W. Bush called him on it, griping that McCain's foreign-policy mistakes didn't make the news while Bush's infamous ignorance on world leaders did. This may seem like a superficial issue, and that's because it very much is. But deep beneath the superficiality, this could be something that actually matters.

• Chuck Todd and friends think that while it's far from a "campaign-killing mistake," the Czech gaffe "advances this narrative" that "McCain is more of a 20th-century presidential candidate rather than a 21st-century one." This has less to do with age than the future: Voters don't want a candidate living in the past. [First Read/MSNBC]

• David Corn notices that, though we all mess up sometimes, when McCain makes a mistake he "does not correct himself and goes on to restate it." Why? It could be because he doesn't use a computer and doesn't grasp the impact of his mistakes, or it could be that "his penchant for repeating gaffes is age-related." Continued slipups like this "might give birth to a negative narrative for McCain." [CQ Politics]

• Andrew Romano writes that normally this would be a "nitpicky" issue, except that "McCain is running as a foreign policy expert and would slam Obama as a novice for a similar mistake." [Stumper/Newsweek]

• Jake Tapper also notes that the reason this story is getting attention on liberal blogs is that Obama "could never get away with such an error," and yet "McCain claims great foreign policy experience and knowledge" but "keep[s] urging action on a missile shield for a country that hasn't existed since George H.W. Bush was president." [Political Punch/ABC News]

• Steve Bennen concurs, reasoning that "the raison d’etre of John McCain’s entire presidential campaign is the notion that he’s an expert on foreign policy," so when he "keeps referencing a non-existent country, it’s not unreasonable to mention that maybe his expertise isn’t quite as impressive as his campaign and the political media establishment would like us to believe." [Crooks & Liars]

• Greg Sargent says it's "[n]ot the hugest deal" but, like others, points out that "McCain is running on his supposed foreign policy superiority. And the GOP and McCain would hit Obama as a foreign policy greenhorn based on less than this." [TPM Election Central]

• Hot Air's Allahpundit contends that McCain gets away with it because he's "been around for years, so absent compelling evidence to the contrary, everyone assumes [he] knows what [he's] talking about." The only reason liberals are harping on this is to take "a none-too-subtle dig at McCain’s age." [Hot Air]

• Ben Smith guesses that "there must have been some palms hitting foreheads in Arlington" yesterday when McCain mentioned Czechoslovakia again, considering how the campaign tried to cover up his mistake from Monday by "pointedly referring to the 'Czech Republic'" in a statement. [Politico]
Dan Amira

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.