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John McCain's age inspires website aiming to amuse and provoke

May 20, 2008 |  3:34 am

Later this week, John McCain's campaign is expected to confront head-on questions about his physical fitness to be president -- an issue stemming partly from his age -- with the release of his medical records and a briefing from doctors.

Over the weekend, McCain himself took a crack at using humor to deflate concerns about whether, at 72 years old on Inauguration Day, he would be stretching the appropriate age for someone about to start serving as president. During an appearance on "Saturday Night Live," he joshed about the matter. (Sample: a reference to his "great, great, great grandchildren," some of whom "are nearing retirement .")

Shopping carts are among the many items a new Web site notes are younger than Republican presidential candidate John McCain McCain, though, is not alone in poking fun at his age. A recently unveiled website creating a buzz also has that goal -- as well as stirring a serious discussion of the topic.

The site, thingsyoungerthanmccain.com, is the brainchild of a fellow who, for now, simply wants to be identified as Joe. We talked to him and did learn that he lives in New York City and works by day as a graphic designer and copy writer. As for his own age, he's 40 -- not so far away from being viewed as hopelessly out of it by some of those born a few decades after him.

He makes no bones about his age-inspired skepticism toward a McCain stint in the White House.

"Am I being 'age-ist'?, he asks on his home page. "Maybe. But maybe not. The world is a pretty complicated place right now and I’m thinking that it’s not such a great time to elect our oldest president ever. So sue me."

He put up a handful of younger-than-McCain posts in April (Superman, the Hindenburg disaster, the ballpoint pen).

But he really kicked himself into gear earlier this month, upon learning that on May 12, his would be the featured site on veryshortlist.com. That sparked traffic, which in turn, spurred audience suggestions. Items younger than McCain (who was born Aug. 29, 1936) that are now featured include the shopping cart, the Slinky, macaroni and cheese ...

... and Spam.

Joe's mother also got into the spirit, sending him an e-mail (which he posted) reading: “I am younger than John McCain and I get senior citizen discounts, I can’t bend, my knees hurt, and I just went on Medicare! And PS, the type is too small on your blog.”

Joe is an unabashed Barack Obama supporter. In fact, he says the idea for his site evolved from a discussion with a friend while they were driving to Pennsylvania to perform volunteer work for the Obama campaign prior to that state's April 22 primary. The pair were lamenting the media's focus on the likes of U.S. flag lapel pins, Joe says, when he began formulating the idea for spotlighting McCain's age -- a matter he considers "more substantive."

"It's not that I don't like McCain because he's old," Joe explains. "But I question whether a 72-year-old man is up to the job" of president.

Neither gender nor race, he continues, inherently make a person less likely to succeed as the leader of the free world. But, he says, "I can think of reasons why age would."

His intent is to "put this on the table" for debate without "being preachy." What he hopes with his site, he said, "is an intelligent conversation, done in a lighthearted way."

It's certainly been done in an eye-catching way.

-- Don Frederick

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