Well, who is it? I am surprised that the brave, independent-thinking members of the Fourth Estate haven’t given full rein to the terrier instinct on this question. Obviously, someone inside the Obama campaign is out to sabotage The Chosen One’s credibility and, just as obviously, the journalistic profession speaks with a single voice when it comes to favoring The Obama over every other candidate. So where are the investigative reporters when we–or, rather, when they–need ’em? Wouldn’t the cause of electing Obama come hell or high water be better served by suspending inquiries in to Todd Palin’s 1986 DUI citations and trying to ferret out the person or persons responsible for the disaster the Obama campaign has become?
Somebody has it in for Obama. What makes me say so? Well, there’s the matter of the gloves. Every few weeks now, Obama comes out and says “I’ve had enough of these nasty Republican smear tactics, the outrageous inquiries into my relationship with the admitted (and unrepentent) terrorist Bill Ayers or my 20-years as a congregant in the church of the anti-American wack-job Jeremiah Wright. From now on , I’m taking off the gloves and am going to run a tough (but high-minded) campaign.”
Jake Tapper [oops: I had written “Jack”] at ABC reckoned Obama’s latest announcement about “taking off the gloves” was his 3rd or 4th and wondered whether we should henceforth think of this as The Isotoner Campaign.
This does not–not quite, not yet–qualify as a Dukakis Moment, but it is hovering in the neighborhood.
Evidence of Obama’s bare-knuckles blunders? The lipstick-on-a-pig gambit, for one: bad move, Mr. O! It doesn’t matter what you meant to say. Your acolytes took it as a reference to Governor Palin and you spent the next several days trying to explain your way out of a mess of pork.
The knuckles got barked that time. And then, just a day or two ago, you go and run a TV ad designed to show how out of touch John McCain is because he doesn’t use email. “Our economy wouldn’t survive without the Internet, and cyber-security continues to represent one our most serious national security threats,” sniffed Dan Pfeiffer, an Obama spokesman. “It’s extraordinary that someone who wants to be our president and our commander in chief doesn’t know how to send an e-mail.”
Another bloomer! Leave aside the fact that Presidents, like other high-ranking government officials, don’t use email. As Jonah Goldberg pointed out, one reason McCain doesn’t use email is that he can’t. Jonah points to a Boston Globe story from 2000 which explains that “McCain’s severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes. Friends marvel at McCain’s encyclopedic knowledge of sports. He’s an avid fan–Ted Williams is his hero–but he can’t raise his arm above his shoulder to throw a baseball.” (That story also quotes John Kerry on McCain: “I enjoy his company, John’s a funny guy. Most of the bad things you hear come from people he’s put on the spot.”) Criticizing McCain for not using a computer, Jonah notes, would be like criticizing “the blind governor of New York David Paterson [who] doesn’t know how to drive a car. After all, transportation issues are pretty important. How dare he serve as governor while being ignorant of what it’s like to navigate New York’s highways.”
Those knuckles are looking pretty torn up Mr. O. Another pair of gloves?
Besides, if it is actual technical savvy you’re interested in, McCain does pretty well. Jonah also points to a July 2008 interview The New York Times published on McCain. The relevant bit:
Q: What websites if any do you look at regularly?
Mr. McCain: Brooke and Mark [a McCain advisor and his Press Secretary] 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.
Mr. McCain: I use the Blackberry, but I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail. I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone. I have the luxury of being in contact with them literally all the time. We now have a phone on the plane that is usable on the plane, so I just never really felt a need to do it. But I do – could I just say, really – I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that. And I understand that something appears on one blog, can ricochet all around and get into the evening news, the front page of The New York Times. So, I do pay attention to the blogs. And I am not in any way unappreciative of the impact that they have on entire campaigns and world opinion.
Oh dear, O dear, O dear. The old septuagenarian’s not that out of touch, is he? And yet the Obama campaign lurches forward, foot placed firmly in its collective mouth. The damage, still being calculated, with be substantial. As Glenn Reynolds notes,
In a single not-very-compelling ad calling McCain a clueless geezer who can’t even send email, the Obama campaign managed to draw attention to his war injuries again, to show that it doesn’t even know that the 2000 McCain campaign actually pioneered the insurgent Web tactics that Obama used in the 2008 primary, and to produce an ad that seems tailor-made to alienate voters more than a few years older than Obama, all without providing any actual reason to, you know, vote for Obama. That’s a combination of cluelessness, sloppiness, and narcissism . . .
And that, mon brave, is only for starters.
Personally, I wonder if one or more operatives from the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy haven’t insinuated themselves into the Obama campaign. Maybe, just maybe, they have even taken over Obama’s brain. That would explain why, for example, he goes on national television and refers to his “Muslim faith.” Oops! A slip, to be sure, but is it a slip that a politically mature candidate would make on such an important occasion? The knuckles are really bleeding now. Whose fault is that?