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Twitter's political coming of age?

First YouTube, now Twitter. The hot social-media technology du jour suddenly finds itself becoming the topic of conversation amid the race for the U.S. presidency.

First YouTube, now Twitter.

In 2006, George Allen destroyed his political future after his infamous "Macaca" crack on the campaign trail made the rounds on YouTube.

Now it turns out that John McCain's campaign has suspended one of its Internet communications operatives for spreading links to a video mashup smearing Barack Obama.

Soren Dayton had used his Twitter account to spread the news. His Twitter page has since vanished.

Pressed by a reporter from Politico, a former producer for "The Laura Ingraham Show" took responsibility for its creation, saying, "I'm trying to join the YouTube generation and have some fun."

So it goes. Unfortunately, you knew it was only a matter of time before we got to this point. Still, it marks another step in the recognition of Twitter as a useful communications tool.

Twitter's come a long way, especially when compared against the skepticism that prevailed a year ago, just as it started going viral. Twitter also played a prominent role in the mini soap opera that took place at the South by Southwest conference, when attendees at the keynote used it to savage Sarah Lacy's interview of Mark Zuckerberg.

Twitter still has a way to go before it rivals YouTube in the popular lexicon. In particular, the mainstream media is going through its own awkward introduction. Here's how Politico describes it: "Twitter is an online device that allows users to send out short messages and links en masse through computers or PDAs."

OK, close enough.