Mass. sheriff defends Obama assassination joke

A Republican sheriff in Massachusetts is defending a joke he told at a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in which President Abraham Lincoln visits President Obama in a dream and suggests he go to the theater. Lincoln was assassinated in a theater, and Democratic critics say that even a joke suggesting the current president might get shot was inappropriate, especially from a public safety official. Plymouth Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald Jr. made the joke Sunday at the heavily Republican breakfast in Scituate. He told the Patriot Ledger of Quincy Tuesday that the uproar over an old joke is ‘‘absurd.’’