Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., introduced a new TV ad his week that paints Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as out of touch for being, when it comes to technology, shall we say a touch "old-school."
"1982, John McCain goes to Washington," the narrator says. "Things have changed in the last 26 years, but McCain hasn't. He admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail, still doesn't understand the economy, and favors 200 billion in new tax cuts for corporations, but almost nothing for the middle class. After one president who was out of touch, we just can't afford more of the same."
Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer told the Associated Press that the Obama campaign was not trying to invoke McCain's 72 years. "Our economy wouldn't survive without the Internet, and cyber-security continues to represent one of our most serious national security threats," 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."
McCain did once describe himself as computer "illiterate" and dependent upon his wife for computer assistance, but there's more to the tale than that.
Assuredly McCain isn't comfortable talking about this -- and the McCain campaign discouraged me from writing about this -- but the reason the aged Arizonan doesn't use a computer or send e-mail is because of his war wounds.
I realize some of the nastier liberals in the blogosphere will see this as McCain once again "playing the POW card," but it's simply a fact: typing on a regular keyboard for any sustained period of time bothers McCain physically.
He can type, he occasionally does type, but in general, the injuries he sustained as a POW -- ones that make it impossible for him to raise his arms high enough to comb his hair -- mean that small tasks make his shoulders ache, so he tries to avoid any repetitive exercise.
Again, it's not that he can't type, he just by habit, avoids when he can, repetitive exercise involving his arms. He does if he has to, as with handshaking or autographs.
It's certainly possible that the Obama campaign did not know this, since McCain makes it sound in interviews as if this is a matter of choice, not discomfort because of his war wounds.
"I read my e-mails, but I don't write any," McCain told Fortune magazine in 2006. "I'm a Neanderthal -- I don't even type. I do have rudimentary capabilities to call up some Web sites, like the New York Times online, that sort of stuff. No laptop. No PalmPilot. I prefer my schedule on notecards, which I keep in my jacket pocket."