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September 12, 2008
OKAY, I THOUGHT THE OBAMA COMMERCIAL MOCKING MCCAIN for not using a computer was dumb because it would alienate older voters. But it turns out it's a lot dumber than that:
The reason he doesn't send email is that he can't use a keyboard because of the relentless beatings he received from the Viet Cong in service to our country. . . . McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes.
Oops. Another unforced error from the Obama campaign, which seems to have had a lot of those lately. The above is from 2000 -- don't these people know how to use Google? Or NEXIS? Or something?
UPDATE: Ouch: "It's extraordinary that someone who wants to be our president and our commander in chief knows how to send an e-mail ...but not how to do a five-minute Google search." Or even how to hire someone who can . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: On that note, reader Amy L. notes that Obama was recently touting his experience managing his campaign as evidence of his executive ability. That argument isn't looking as strong after the past couple of weeks.
MORE: Epic Fail: "This whole Obama thing has *got* to be a put-on by the DNC. Any minute Allen Funt will pop out and they’ll announce the real ticket is Hillary Clinton and Phil Bredesen (or Mark Warner) or something, right?"
Okay, that's a gross exaggeration -- though I like the imagery. Is Allen Funt still around? (No, alas). But coupled with this attack, it does give the impression that the Obama campaign is floundering. I regard the Democrats' panic here as excessive, as I noted below, but either I have a more phlegmatic disposition (possibly) or they know something I don't know (also possible).
STILL MORE: A reader named Craig emails that this interview from the NYT says McCain uses a computer. But, to be fair, it mostly is about people showing him things on the computer:
Q: What websites if any do you look at regularly?
Mr. McCain: Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes.
(Mrs. McCain and Ms. Buchanan both interject: “Meagan’s blog!”)
Mr. McCain: Excuse me, Meagan’s blog. And we also look at the blogs from Michael and from you that may not be in the newspaper, that are just part of your blog.
Q: But do you go on line for yourself?
Mr. McCain: They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need – including going to my daughter’s blog first, before anything else.
Q: Do you use a blackberry or email?
Mr. McCain: No
Mark Salter: He uses a BlackBerry, just ours.
Not enough here to call the Obama claim false. Here, by the way, is the Obama ad with its "can't send an email" claim.
MORE STILL: On the other hand, calling McCain a Luddite shows more deficient opposition research by the Obama campaign. Reader Sandeep Dath sends this Forbes article from 2000:
This Internet-driven decentralization meant that the McCain campaign could organize down to a virtually block-by-block level for little cost. It allowed a thin organization to compete against the heavily financed and well-organized Bush machine, and it gave McCain campaign dollars an estimated 4-to-1 advantage over Bush greenbacks.
McCain himself was convinced early on that the Internet had to play a critical role in the campaign. Time and again it allowed him to leverage his money and his organization. "In the Virginia primary," McCain told me, "we needed a lot of petitions signed to get on the ballot. We had the form available to download off the Internet and got 17,000 signatures with very little trouble."
Ultimately, McCain realized he couldn't go the distance, but the message was clear to any political organization with hopes for the future. His Web team had played the Internet like a Stradivari. . . .
In certain ways, McCain was a natural Web candidate. Chairman of the Senate Telecommunications Subcommittee and regarded as the U.S. Senate's savviest technologist, McCain is an inveterate devotee of email. His nightly ritual is to read his email together with his wife, Cindy. The injuries he incurred as a Vietnam POW make it painful for McCain to type. Instead, he dictates responses that his wife types on a laptop. "She's a whiz on the keyboard, and I'm so laborious," McCain admits.
Yes, McCain's 2000 campaign was famous at the time for its pioneering use of the Internet. Really, whatever Obama's paying his people, it's too much . . . . (Sandeep found this via Ace).
FINALLY: A reader emails: "It's more like 'Whatever the GOP is paying Rove, it isn't enough...' Because, come on, this whole Dem campaign has *got* to be a Rovian plot." I don't think Rove is plotting anymore. The Democrats are doing this all by themselves. . . .
And this comment has got to hurt: "I think they spent months trying to figure out how they can position Obama as better qualified than McCain, and basically came up with the fact that Obama can type."
ChicagoBoyz: What does this blunder tell us about Obama? "Such an intelligence blunder on the part of a President could cost lives."
Plus, a Men in Black reference.
And an important question: "Which have less dexterity: John McCain's hands or Barack Obama's campaign strategists?"
Reader Jennifer Verner writes: "The American people can't help but notice a pattern here. Not only totally incompetent, but nasty and petty. And certainly not presidential." Well, they won't notice if the press can manage to prevent it . . . .
And a reader named Daniel emails: "I think McCain can use a keyboard to a point yet it is painful to use it. People like to point out various things about his war injuries that he seemed to have more flexibility etc. when he was younger (like him being able to move his arms higher), yet you also got to understand as someone ages those old war wounds become even more debilitating as time goes by. If someone received war injuries to the legs severely and went through therapy to walk again and go on a normal life, later in age, that person still would not be able to ride a bike or go around on their feet as quickly if they didn't receive such wounds. Really, the ad is supposed to reflect McCain being out of touch because of his age, yet in actuality it makes fun of a partially disabled senior. Not a very good move on Obama's part."
Plus, "I guess now we'll find out whether Barack Obama is capable of shame."