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McCain is an “illiterate”

Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain has admitted he is web illiterate:

When questioned on his use of computers, McCain has confessed that he does not know how to use the web and relies entirely on his staff and wife to use the computer:

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.

I find it quite alarming that a man who hopes to become the next President of the United States doesn’t even know have a basic understanding of the Internet. For those of you who don’t think this matters, it does: the next President will be making key decisions which will affect the future of the web. I project that privacy, wiretapping, and net neutrality will all be critical issues in the next term. Not to mention issues of educational technology funding and filtering schools. I don’t expect our President to be a code jedi, but at the very least he should be able to go online by himself. Even Bush uses ‘the Google.’ And honestly, how hard is it? Plug in a wire and click the little fox:

“It’s just amazing,” Jamal Simmons, a strategist with the Obama campaign, told The Daily Telegraph. “It’s very hard to even think about someone who doesn’t know how to use the internet. It’s like, ‘Really?’ My five-year-old niece can use the internet. She knows how to go to nickelodeon.com and play her games.”

Of course, there are those who exploit comedy gold where they find it: this time with a candidate so out of touch with the average American that he doesn’t even understand the most popular form of communication among young Americans:

No matter how much people want to emphasize McCain’s long experience, that only make this issue worse. When looking for a web-savvy candidate I don’t look for a candidate who still thinks about media en masse, I want a candidate who gets it (like Obama, who carries a Blackberry). Frankly, I don’t care if he is aware of the net, if he can’t even use it himself:

“You don’t necessarily have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country. John McCain is aware of the Internet. This is a man who has a very long history of understanding on a range of issues.” ~Mark Soohoo, deputy director of Mr McCain’s e-campaign

I leave you with this parting thought: what if a major candidate admitted he was (literally) illiterate and depended upon his staff to read for him simply because he has never bothered to learn how?

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6 Responses to “McCain is an “illiterate””


  1. 1 Chris

    On the plus side, he realizes that he has a knowledge deficiency and he delegates his web presence to someone who does understand it (his daughter).

    Like many CEOs he cannot be expected to be up to speed on every facet of his business, but he can hire advisers who have the required expertise and trust their judgment.

  2. 2 arthus

    @Chris: True, at least he admits he has a problem. However, instead of just getting someone else to do it for him, he should learn about the tech.

    Sure, I don’t expect CEO’s to have an intimate knowledge about every facet of their business, I expect them to have some general knowledge about every major project/issue. I don’t expect McCain to know about how the web actually works technically, but I expect him to be able to use it. You can be sure Bill Gates knows how to use Windows without an engineer standing over his shoulder and Steve Jobs can use an iPhone.

  3. 3 Mike Hasley

    While I agree that everyone should be somewhat literate about the web, exactly what do you want McCain “googling?” Should he look up WMD’s on Wikipedia? Actually, I’d rather have a President who doesn’t think much of the web so he’ll just leave it alone. Sadly, there are 535 members of Congress, 3000 appointed policy makers, and 9 members of the Supreme Court making these decisions. Furthermore, if issues of net neutrality come up, I’m sure McCain would use advisers for this as most Presidents do with most important bills he must sign. Obama may think he knows it all (and doesn’t) and make a decision without advisers.

    In the end, I’d rather have a President who often asks (not all the time) “What do you all think?” instead of, “Here’s what I think.”

  4. 4 arthus

    @Mike: Of course he shouldn’t be getting his intelligence from Wikipedia. However, I think he should be able to have a basic knowledge of the web and have been on it.

    On issues of Iraq, politicians listen to advisers intimately familiar with the situation (one would hope), but they still have been there and know where it is on a map.

    Obama isn’t going to make a decision without talking to advisers. There isn’t a single decision made in that office where the President doesn’t talk to advisers or senior staff. Obama isn’t so arrogant as to assume he knows best in every case. The problem is McCain doesn’t even know enough to understand what is advisers are telling him.

    In terms of using the web, being able to read his own daughter’s blog without assistance would be a nice start…

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