Dan Nexon offers a good reason not to get all riled up over John McCain’s tendency to misemploy “Czechoslovakia.” I tend to agree with him. However, I disagree that calling the Czech Republic “Czechoslovakia” is justifiable because it hasn’t got an English shorthand like other countries do. I’m only concerned with gaffes insofar as they show evidence of a lack of knowledge. All this particular one shows evidence of is John McCain’s age. It is understandable because those who make that mistake tend to be older and have memories of Czechoslovakia. I think of it like calling a recently married female by her maiden name soon after she’s been married and taken her husband’s name. It takes time to adjust to things like that. The excusability of that kind of mistake diminishes as the age of the speaker decreases. If he starts advocating engagement with “Prussia” and bombing “Persia,” I will worry and complain. But not over this.