McCain's Disturbing Internet Ignorance

McCain's Disturbing Internet Ignorance


John Murrell of Good Morning Silicon Valley has a good post up noting a recent New York Times interview where John McCain admits to Internet illiteracy. Murrell comments:

OK, if he were the 72-year-old guy down the block, I could cut him some slack. Whatever age you are, if you don’t have any use for the Net, if you don’t want the hassle of learning all that new stuff, fine … But if you’re running for the highest office in the land and one of the most powerful positions on earth, shouldn’t you at least know how to log on to the freakin’ Internet by yourself? [McCain said] “I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon.” Have it down fairly soon? It’s a double-click, Senator. A little closer together, sir — click-click. Sheesh. Ordinary folks from 3 to 103 have picked this up in minutes, and he’ll have it down fairly soon.

Murrell goes on to say he’s bothered by McCain’s willful ignorance of the Internet not because such a thing is uncommon but because it shows an incurious streak that is not good for a leader.

I have to agree. Eight years ago it was probably still acceptable for a candidate running for president to be unengaged with the Internet. Now? Not so much. The Internet in its various applications will be the dominant mode of communication in the coming century (if it isn’t already). I don’t know if McCain’s resistance to the technology reveals an incurious side but it doesn’t speak well of how well he’ll engage and fit in to a 21st century nation. From basic communication to commercial transactions to how we’re forming our social bonds and networks, the Internet is vital. Not every American needs to log on, but the president surely needs more than a distant knowledge of how it all works.

McCain is an old man. The last thing he needs to be doing is looking out of date. For the sake of his image and campaign, I hope he figures out this Internet thing pretty quickly. Just having people read to you what’s online is not enough.

  • rusty075

    I’m not all that bother by the social aspects of his i-illiteracy. Yes, it would be kind of sad that the leader of the free world has to have his email printed out so he can read it, but I could get over it. I’m not expecting either presidential candidate to spend their afternoons cruising Facebook from the Oval Office.

    What troubles me more is the policy implications of it. In the next 4 years the president is likely to have to deal with a range of internet-related public policy issues: Net Neutrality, Online Privacy, Internet Taxation, Online Free Speech, Online Child Protection, etc, etc. And those are just the ones off the top of head…you could probably come up with a dozen more. Having no firsthand knowledge of a topic makes the president completely dependent upon his circle of advisors. Whatever his advisors’ opinion of the topic is will likely become the president’s opinion. And given that even during the campaign McCain’s ear is heavily bent by industry lobbists, I can only imagine that as president that trend will continue. A president that has experienced the internet from a user’s perspective will have a more well-rounded understanding.

  • Dan

    Mccain goes on the internet. He goes to politico, realclearpolitics all the time.

    McCain was joking with the reporter. People need to get a life.

    McCain uses a blackberry.

    I don’t know how much more I can take of this stupid campaign against McCain.

    McCain isn’t going to win so you can stop taking him out of context.

    Enough you can have Obama as King you win.

    Bill Clinton doesn’t use e-mail or blackberry.

    The president can’t even use e-mail for security reasons.

    Obama doesn’t even know what a widget is.

    Obama has no technology experience.

    Enough already.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    Dan — If he was joking with the NYTimes, the NYTimes failed to note that or clarify. If you have links showing that McCain is indeed a computer savvy fellow, I’d be glad to retract.

    Plus, fyi, I’m not an Obama supporter — so it may make two of us who have some facts wrong.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    Here’s a link: from Politico that confirms the facts of my post. He does NOT use a blackberry and his staff logs onto website for him — so while he may read web pages, other people are loading them on the computer.

    The article also notes that he admited to Internet illiteracy last January.

    I maintain my position that the leader of the free world needs more than a passing understanding of the Internet. That doesn’t mean I’m not considering voting for him. It’s just a concern with noting.