So Rep. Rob Andrews played the age card again and again in the runup to Tuesday's N.J. Senate primary and was summarily trounced by the supposed geezer in question, Frank Lautenberg, by nearly a 2-1 advantage.

Yes, if Lautenberg prevails in the November general election, he will be 91 at the end of his fifth term as Andrews' ads repeatedly warned voters.

Guess what? It seems the senator is a bit more "vigorous" than Andrews incessant ageist ads charged.

Turns out times have changed.

In 1972, Lautenberg, then a mere whippersnapper, used age to vanquish Millicent Fenwick. Andrews brought this up repeatedly, as well. Fenwick was 72, a dozen years younger than Lautenberg is now. Fenwick, long thought the inspiration for Doonesbury's Lacey Davenport, was also perceived as a patrician throwback to the past despite her progressive ideals.

Voters have clearly become more sensitive in the intervening years. What worked in 1982, doesn't play now, and a candidate has to run on what he has has to offer not simply on the platform that he isn't old.

There was something distasteful about Andrews' campaign, which used age above all other charges. It's one thing for Jay Leno and other late-night comics to make age jokes about McCain, another thing for a candidate.

This is a warning about doing the same with John McCain in the general presidential election. First, McCain is adept at making them himself. Second, Barack Obama seems to have more dignity than this. And, third, it's always important to remember this golden rule in politics: Older people vote.