The Corner

Wondering No More

Yep. The day after 9/11, as part of its “get tough” makeover, the Obama campaign is mocking John McCain for not using a computer, without caring why he doesn’t use a computer. From the AP story about the computer illiterate ad:

“Our economy wouldn’t survive without the Internet, and cyber-security continues to represent one our most serious national security threats,” [Obama spokesman Dan] Pfeiffer said. “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.”

Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by “extraordinary.” 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. From the Boston Globe (March 4, 2000):

McCain gets emotional at the mention of military families needing food stamps or veterans lacking health care. The outrage comes from inside: 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.

In a similar vein I guess it’s an outrage that the blind governor of New York David Paterson 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.

Update: Well, now the story is up on Drudge (You heard it here first!). Re: Mark’s point about how the supposedly web-savvy Obama campaign can’t handle Google, here’s another story confirming he has difficulty using a keyboard. Ironically, it’s from one of the most pro-Obama journalists out there, Jacob Weisberg, in an article in Slate in 2000:

“Six months ago, no one would have pegged McCain as the most cybersavvy of this year’s crop of candidates. At 63, he is the oldest of the bunch and because of his war injuries, he is limited in his ability to wield a keyboard.”

Now, in response to some angry criticism already coming in: Feh.

Some say, So what if he was handicapped? He could still learn how to send email.

Sure, but why would he? Bill Clinton sent two emails during his entire presidency and often admitted he didn’t know squat about the internet.

One reader says “Steven Hawking knows how to use a computer!” Yes, because if he didn’t he couldn’t do his job or communicate. McCain, like Clinton, didn’t have that problem. Here’s a more sane version of t he same complaint:

You are ridiculous about this. While of course McCain probably can’t type for long periods or in the manner in which many of us do, there are a tremendous amount of people that peck with just their index fingers. He also can surely use a mouse. How much typing do you really have to do to send emails and use the internet. Plus, when he was asked point blank about it he never said he couldn’t type. I am sure he can’t use a blackberry, but there are tons of people with far worse injuries than McCain that use a computer.

That’s absolutely true, I’m sure. But they need to use computers to get through life. McCain doesn’t. And the fact that he’s not blaming his disability hardly sounds like a serious indictment. If he did blame his disability, many of the same folks yelling at me would be complaining that McCain’s whining.

Now, I’d hardly be surprised if McCain could type for short stretches and all that. The point is, that it’s perfectly understandable why he wouldn’t get in the habit of it.

Oh one last point for now: Lord knows I think the chicken-hawk arguments are stupid. And I don’t think the fact that Obama never served in the military should count against him in and of itself. But how stupid is it for the Obama campaign to claim that McCain is unqualified to be president because he can’t grasp cyber-security issues based on the fact he has never sent an email when the McCain campaign can just as easily say Obama can’t understand first order national security issues because he’s never fired a rife, flown a plane, commanded men in battle, or faced an enemy? I mean which prepares someone to be commander in chief better, hitting “send” on AOL or fighting a war?

Update II: On the other hand: I don’t know what to make of this interview with the New York Times. He sounds awfully web savvy in it, which makes the Obama ad sound unfair. And if you read it closely, it sounds like he knows how to surf with a mouse, but doesn’t do much by way of typing.

Updates: See here and — amusingly — here

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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