Massachusetts Sheriff Joseph McDonald defended a joke he made about President Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln as "political satire." (Image source: WCVB-TV)
A Massachusetts county sheriff is standing by a joke he made that President Barack Obama should "go to the theater" a la Abraham Lincoln.
Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald Jr., a Republican, made the crack at a St. Patrick's Day breakfast on Sunday. He said Lincoln visited Obama and gave him advice on how to fix the country: “Go to the theater,” Lincoln told Obama. Lincoln, of course, was assassinated in the theater in 1865.
“It was absolutely in jest,” McDonald told the Patriot Ledger this week. “It was a joke. It wasn’t a new joke by any means.”
WBZ-TV reported McDonald's remark generated outraged comments on the sheriff's Facebook page. As of Thursday afternoon, the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department Facebook page appeared to have been deleted.
John Birtwell, director of public information for the sheriff's department, did not immediately return requests for comment from TheBlaze about the page's disappearance.
McDonald told WCVB-TV on Wednesday that he and his family have received more than 100 threatening emails and voice messages because of the joke.
"Things have taken a very sinister turn," he told the station. "I've received all kinds of hate emails, phone messages and voice mails, many of them physically threatening me, my family."
McDonald has said repeatedly the joke was "political satire," pointing out that similar jokes were made about then-President George W. Bush going hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney.
"It's political satire. It was meant in jest," McDonald told WCVB. "It was stated in jest, and it's unfortunate individuals would seek to capitalize on that."
John Walsh, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, told the station that McDonald made "an old, stupid, inappropriate joke" but that he should have known better.
"You know when you're the chief law enforcement officer of Plymouth County and you have a whole bunch of people who work for you and run around with guns [you] should be a little more sensitive about it,” Walsh said.