Saturday, September 13, 2008

Did Obama Err By Mocking McCain’s Computer Illiteracy?

The Barack Obama campaign may have made a slight slip up in an ad that focuses on how they think John McCain is out of touch. Most of the ad is fine, but there is one section where the ad states “He admits he doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail" could cause them to have red faces. It seems that McCain has limited mobility due to his experiences as a POW, which allegedly restricts his ability to use a computer keyboard.

First, here’s the ad in case you haven’t seen it yet:

Now I am not one to minimized John McCain’s experience as a POW, and certainly I think what happened to him was horrible. He does seem to be limited in how high he can raise his arms, which is evident when he waves to the crowd.

But I wonder if it really has prevented him from using a keyboard. After all, he seems to have no problems holding a pen and writing, nor does he seem to have any problem twirling around his wedding ring and doing the “thumbs up” in this little video someone put together (with humorous references added) when McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate:

(At least his eyes seem to work just fine.)

An article in the LA Times (below) now brings the issue to a larger audience, which may create problems for Obama.

Personally, it is not surprising to me that even despite McCain’s reported inability to use a keyboard that he doesn’t’ know how to send an email. I know a lot of his people the same age that are the same way, and their fingers and hands work just fine. But what I don’t get is why the Obama campaign seemed to think they had to make this an issue, because as far as I am concerned, it’s not a reason why I would – or wouldn’t – vote for someone. I still question whether McCain is just not physically able to use a keyboard or he's just simply a luddite, either way, there are bigger issues where the Obama campaign should focus.

The Obama campaign would be smart to re-issue the ad without the email references, and just focus on the issues themselves that make McCain seem out of touch. That would be much more meaningful to voters.

Oops, Obama ad mocks McCain's inability to send e-mail. Trouble is, he can't due to tortured fingers

As part of its effort to show the 72-year-old Republican Sen. John McCain as old and out of touch, the Democratic Party's hip campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, which frequently says it honors the former POW's military service to his country, Friday released a new ad.

As noted Friday by our blogging colleagues over at the Technology blog here, the ad says, among other things: "1982, John McCain goes to Washington. Things have changed in the last 26 years, but McCain hasn't.

"He admits he doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail."

Here's the ad. Listen for yourself. [the ad is already listed above]

Like many of his generation, McCain does not like to talk details a lot about his wartime experiences, certainly not about any lingering physical symptoms. To be honest, it could sound like complaining and, as he's ruefully noted, unlike many others, McCain did come home.

The former pilot does joke sometimes about flying his plane into a telephone-pole-sized North Vietnamese missile.

Last week in his speech to the Republican National Convention, McCain opened up more than usual, mentioning his two broken arms and broken leg from ejecting over Hanoi, and his 66 months of imprisonment and torture, calling it simply working him over.

But something he did not go into in that speech were ...

... some of the lingering results of his poor medical treatment and brutal beatings.

Here's a passage from a lengthy Boston Globe profile on McCain that was published the last time he ran for president. It was headlined "McCain character loyal to a fault." It was written by Mary Leonard.

And it was printed more than eight years ago, on March 4, 2000.

It is available online, where Jonah Goldberg of The Corner blog at the National Review found it.

"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."

Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer denied that the freshman Illinois senator's ad was making an issue of McCain's age. "It's extraordinary," he said, "that someone who wants to be our president and commander in chief doesn't know how to send an e-mail."

The Obama campaign has seen some significant and disturbing poll shifts since its convention in Denver, including a broad movement of white women toward the GOP ticket after that party named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin its vice presidential nominee. And some local and congressional Democrats have begun to fret and grumble over a perceived softness in the Obama-Biden ticket.

According to the Associated Press, Obama campaign manager David Pfouffle issued a stern campaign strategy memo Friday that said, in part:

"Today is the first day of the rest of the campaign. We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain's attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people."

The "big issues."

Like fractured fingers?

-- Andrew Malcolm

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