Their father, President Barack Obama, stood in front of reporters Thursday with visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and joked that Russia and the United States could throw away those "red phones" from the Cold-War era and replace them with Twitter. Except he referred to the social networking site as "Twitters."
Oops. The gaffe came as Obama announced that Medvedev "visited the headquarters of Twitters," during his stay in the United States this week and opened an account. "I have one as well," Obama said, "so we may be able to finally throw away those red phones that have been sitting around for so long."
Coming from a president who has hailed technology as a way to modernize government and can thank the Internet, in part, for his very election, the awkwardness of the moment was palpable.
The gaffe did not go unnoticed. "Twitters?" Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank asked incredulously. "This sounded like either a nervous condition or a cross between Twitter and Hooters."
In the world of social networking, which Obama seems to be less familiar with than he once appeared to be, the reaction was no less blunt.
"Obama says he uses 'the twitters.' Did John McCain teach him how to use it?" one tweeter asked. "Sounds like a Bushism," another wrote.
During the 2008 presidential race, Obama raised millions through online donations, and his campaign designed its very own Facebook-like application for the hoard of technology-obsessed millennials who helped elect him. But the flub cast some doubt on Obama's tech-savvy rep. It also raised some questions about just how much time he really spends on his official Twitter account, @BarackObama.
Then again, just last year, Obama admitted that he wasn't too up on the 140-character trend. "I have never used Twitter, but I'm an advocate of technology and not restricting Internet access," he said in a town hall meeting. "My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone."