Friday, September 12, 2008


The latest attack ad from the Obama campaign slams McCain as being out of touch because he admits he doesn't know himself how to use a computer or send an email. Thing is though, he makes daily use of these technologies with the help of his wife and/or his staff. See, he has a bit of trouble using a keyboard. Something to do with having had many of his bones broken multiple times in a North Vietnamese prison. He also has trouble tying his shoes and combing his hair, are they going to make fun of him for that, too?

Incidentally, in this interview with the New York Times [HT Jonah Goldberg], McCain sounds like he's got a reasonable level of online engagement for someone of his age. For that matter, I don't really give a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys whether my president keeps up on all the top blogs or not. If he's not farming that work out to some (extremely) junior staffer I'd have serious doubts about his ability to delegate responsibility.

Finally, the line "things have changed in the last 26 years, but McCain hasn't" could just as well come from a McCain ad. Do they seriously not realize this is one of the reasons we like him? Even those of us who wish he were more ideologically conservative respect the fact that he is a man who has, from 1982 to today, voted according to his own convictions rather than flapping in the breezes of public opinion and party lines.

UPDATE: InstaPundit has a great recap of the response to this ad. A few favorite comments:
"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."
"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."


Shane said...

"Even those of us who wish he were more ideologically conservative respect the fact that he is a man who has, from 1982 to today, voted according to his own convictions rather than flapping in the breezes of public opinion and party lines."

C'mon, look at how his stances have evolved on torture, wiretapping, campaign finance, tax cuts, the estate tax, greenhouse gas emissions, the new Webb GI Bill, and a host of other minor issues that I personally don't care about.

The only issues he is truly consistent in is hating abortion and always being on the side of more military force.

Now, this particular attack isn't all that effective, even though I personally hate McCain's incoherent technology policy (which I truly believe is related to the fact that he is totally unfamiliar with technology and has never thought things through).

I actually happen to think that McCain isn't out of touch because he's old, but rather because he's always been privileged, and has never lived or worked among ordinary people. How else to explain his puzzling proposal that Americans wouldn't be willing or able to pick lettuce for $50 an hour?.

Shane said...

Oh and does Jonah Goldberg actually believe that the Viet Cong tortured John McCain? Or is that just a typo that doesn't need to be addressed in either of his two updates?

Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake said...

I don't remember saying his positions haven't changed over the years. They have, but those changes haven't been calculated to please public opinion or the grand poobahs of the Republican party. At various points he's been on the wrong side of both, but at several of those points he's turned out to be right. And on some of them (i.e. campaign finance reform, global warming mitigation policy) I still think he's quite wrong. But I respect that his stance on those issues is his own. It comes down to the fact that I am very much a small-"r" republican. I'm not going to pick a leader based on a table of individual issues (and if I tried, I'd probably go crazy and end up waving Ron Paul signs from freeway overpasses). I'm also not just looking for whomever would come closest to doing what I would in his position. I want a leader, not a proxy, so I'm willing to defer judgment on a whole lot of issues.

And yeah, it would have been some agency of the North Vietnamese running the Hanoi Hilton. We can split hairs all day long, but that's sort of beside the point.

Shane said...

I've since cooled down - I should've clarified in my first comment that I don't actually think that McCain's computer usage is a fair target for criticism. I still think that a leader needs to understand information theory stuff and have a handle on good IT policy, which McCain does not appear to have. Contrast this with Obama, who I thought laid out thoughtful tech positions when he was interviewed on the Google campus last year.

And I still think that he has flip-flopped onto the Republican party positions on tax cuts, estate taxes, and torture out of political expediency, with his eyes on the Republican nomination. Granted, an argument can be made that he took a lot of those earlier positions just to spite Bush, since he was a much more traditional Republican before the 2000 race. But still, I don't trust that he's doing anything "according to his own convictions."

Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake said...

I guess I agree that IT policy is important these days, and I think you're right that Obama has the upper hand on this topic. At the same time, I can't think of any examples where the executive branch is setting tech policy. Intellectual property issues have mostly been the domain of the courts, and new laws are obviously going to come from Congress. I'm sure there are examples, I guess it just shows how this isn't exactly a top priority issue for me.

Shane said...

This goes to show just how much of a policy nerd I am - but I was thinking about FCC appointees, regarding telecom regulation (specifically net neutrality), bandwidth allocation, and encouraging competition and a robust telecommunications infrastructure, from fiber to wireless. There are a lot of fights going on that the FCC has the power to settle. Regarding the future of the internet, I'd rather Google get their way than AT&T get theirs.