I was watching Fox Sunday when Chris Wallace brought up Obama’s “McCain doesn’t know how to use a computer” campaign spot to strategist Karl Rove. Rove, who regularly advises the McCain camp, took the position that the critique was offensive and “over the line”. The argument goes that McCain is incapable of using a computer due to his injuries suffered as a prisoner of war – he can’t raise his hands above his chest and his fingers lack the dexterity to type on a standard keyboard. Rove felt Obama owed McCain an apology for such an out of bounds attack.
I’ve got news for Mr. Rove. There are millions of people in this country who do not have the use of their arms, hands or even their body and who use a computer every single day. One such man is Professor Stephen Hawking. Hawking is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, England. Hawking suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease and does not have use of the majority of his neural functions. He communicates via a computer system attached to his wheelchair which is operated via an infra-red ‘blink switch’ clipped onto Hawking’s glasses. By scrunching his right cheek up, he is able to talk, compose speeches and research papers, browse the World Wide Web, and write e-mails.
So when Karl Rove and says John McCain “can’t” use a computer because of his war injuries, what he really mean is that John McCain “won’t” use a computer. There are plenty of ways to do so besides standard input devices, as is evidenced by Professor Hawking. No, this isn’t about physical limitations, this is about mind set. John McCain doesn’t see the need to surf the web, organize thoughts and send emails. He has staff that does all that for him. He lacks the will to do these basic tasks for himself. Why does this matter? For me it makes all the difference.
All during George Bush’s Presidency we kept hearing about how American’s wanted a President they can relate to, a man they could “sit down and have a beer with”. I don’t drink, but I sure as hell use a computer, and so do millions of Americans every single day. I want a President who is curious enough about the world to use the World Wide Web on his own. I want a President who has an intricate understanding of technology, where it’s heading and what challenges we are likely to face. I want a President that computer users can finally relate to.
How can I expect John McCain to really understand the threat of anti-Net Neutrality legislation when he doesn’t deal with his own Internet providers? How can McCain fathom the threat of anti-spam laws getting struck down if he doesn’t send and receive his own email? Now more than ever, we need a President that is in tune with the world we live in, not one that makes excuses about why he can’t click a mouse.