Sleeping on the Job?

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Jan 29, 2007 11:07 AM

The big story that almost happened last week was John McCain dozing off during the SOTU.

Of course, it never happened.

Still, the anti-McCain forces were hoping YouTube would help spread the meme. As web consultant David All points out in the NY Times, the McCain team did a good job of showing their own video (which made it clear that McCain was actually reading the speech -- not sleeping).

But while the NY Times story is essentially another "process" story about how YouTube is changing politics, I think the bigger story -- the story that will play out in '08 -- is that McCain's enemies are making the mistake of making his age an issue.

What they fail to realize is that every time someone mentions McCain's age, they remind us of Ronald Reagan, who said:

"Thomas Jefferson once said, 'We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.' And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying."

There you have it: "We should never judge a president by his age..."

And during the Clinton years, the big joke was that we all missed the days when, "sleeping with the President meant attending a Cabinet meeting."

Of course, the folks who tried this scurrilous attack probably remember that last year, Democrats posted a video of MT Sen. Conrad Burns sleeping during a meeting. It was a source of major embarrassment, but I don't think that one incident cost him the election.

When it comes to negative politics, there are plenty of legitimate things that you could criticize John McCain on (such as campaign finance "reform") -- but his age isn't one of them. Every time someone attacks him for being "too old," they are making him the victim. 

There they go again!

- Matt Lewis