Call it the perils of Twitter.
Or a new Maginot Line in what Slate’s John Dickerson has called "the Umbrage War."
On his Facebook page, the Democratic National Committee’s director of research, Mike Gehrke, was shown "twittering" — meaning he was sending a message to his friends through "Twitter" — the following message:
"Mike is twittering: You know what you call someone who digs up dirt on John McCain? An archeologist."
See it HERE
It’s a Jay Leno joke, fyi.
DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney reports that the comment has been taken down and Mike "has been reprimanded."
Last month Democrats made much out of the fact that a staffer on McCain’s campaign "twittered" a link to a racially inflammatory Youtube video about Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, as first reported by Politico’s Jonathan Martin.
To Gehrke’s Republican critics, his ageist twitter joke seems to go against a standard that DNC Chairman Howard Dean set a few days ago when he said Democrats would likely not try to make an issue out of Sen. McCain’s advanced years. The Arizonan would be the oldest president ever elected to his first term; he turns 72 in August.
"I doubt we will bring it up in the election," Dean said "There is somewhat of a higher ethical bar on what we do. We don’t have any Lee Atwaters or Karl Roves on our side."
Clearly there’s a different bar for ageist humor than there is for sexist and racist ones — for plenty of reasons, including the idea that age happens to all of us (as they say, it’s better than the alternative.)
And there has clearly been a lot of traffic this campaign season in feigned outrage.
I doubt McCain would be much offended by this joke. He’d probably laugh at it.
But, frankly…a research director should know better. (Not to mention an archaeologist!)