Why can’t McCain e-mail? Boston Globe explained it in 2000; Update: So did Forbes

posted at 7:15 pm on September 12, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier today, Barack Obama’s campaign released an ad attacking John McCain for not knowing how to send an e-mail.  Their crack research team apparently never heard of Google or Lexis-Nexis, but Jonah Goldberg does.  He discovers why McCain doesn’t use a keyboard — his torturers made sure he couldn’t.  The Boston Globe reported it eight years ago:

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.

After Vietnam, McCain had Ann Lawrence, a physical therapist, help him regain flexibility in his leg, which had been frozen in an extended position by a shattered knee. It was the only way he could hope to resume his career as a Navy flier, but Lawrence said the treatment, taken twice a week for six months, was excruciatingly painful.

”He endured it, he wouldn’t settle for less,” said Lawrence, who rejoiced with McCain when he passed the Navy physical. ”I have never seen such toughness and resolve.”

Making fun of a war hero’s severe injuries — smooth move, Team O.  Talk about computer illiteracy!  Doesn’t anyone on the Obama campaign know what they’re doing?  Didn’t it ever occur to them that a man who can’t raise his arms above his head might have a physical barrier to using a computer?

If this is what happens when they takes the gloves off, maybe they should just keep them on in the future.

Update (AP): I’m not sure how he’s accessing the ‘Net given his injuries, but he does appear to have some kind of access. From an NYT interview in July:

Q: What websites if any do you look at regularly?

Mr. McCain: Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes.

(Mrs. McCain and Ms. Buchanan both interject: “Meagan’s blog!”)

Mr. McCain: Excuse me, Meagan’s blog. And we also look at the blogs from Michael and from you that may not be in the newspaper, that are just part of your blog.

Q: But do you go on line for yourself?

Mr. McCain: 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.

Maybe he’s able to move the mouse so he can access sites bookmarked for him?

Update (Ed): Jonah Goldberg makes an excellent point in an update:

Lord knows I think the chicken-hawk arguments are stupid. And I don’t think the fact that Obama never served in the military should count against him in and of itself. But how stupid is it for the Obama campaign to claim that McCain is unqualified to be president because he can’t grasp cyber-security issues based on the fact he has never sent an email when the McCain campaign can just as easily say Obama can’t understand first order national security issues because he’s never fired a rife, flown a plane, commanded men in battle, or faced an enemy? I mean which prepares someone to be commander in chief better, hitting “send” on AOL or fighting a war?

In fact, didn’t Obama just make all of those arguments valid and fair?

Update II: Ace notes that Forbes Magazine noted McCain’s disability in 2000, too:

In certain ways, McCain was a natural Web candidate. Chairman of the Senate Telecommunications Subcommittee and regarded as the U.S. Senate’s savviest technologist, McCain is an inveterate devotee of email. His nightly ritual is to read his email together with his wife, Cindy. The injuries he incurred as a Vietnam POW make it painful for McCain to type. Instead, he dictates responses that his wife types on a laptop. “She’s a whiz on the keyboard, and I’m so laborious,” McCain admits.

How difficult was this for a campaign to find before they ran an ad embarrassing themselves?


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