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Infantilizing John McCain

By Jesse Taylor
Saturday, September 13, 2008 15:11 EDT
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Jonah Goldberg had an a-ha! moment yesterday, which, as most of Jonah’s a-ha! moments go, involved taking something that someone else thought of and putting it on the National Review’s website. In this case, he figures out that John McCain doesn’t use e-mail because he was POWatized way back when.

Yep. The day after 9/11, as part of its “get tough” makeover, the Obama campaign is mocking John McCain for not using a computer, without caring why he doesn’t use a computer. From the AP story about the computer illiterate ad:

“Our economy wouldn’t survive without the Internet, and cyber-security continues to represent one our most serious national security threats,” [Obama spokesman Dan] 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.”

Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by “extraordinary.” The reason he doesn’t send email is that he can’t use a keyboard because of the relentless beatings he received from the Viet Cong in service to our country. From the Boston Globe (March 4, 2000):

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.

In a similar vein I guess it’s an outrage that the blind governor of New York David Paterson doesn’t know how to drive a car. After all, transportation issues are pretty important. How dare he serve as governor while being ignorant of what it’s like to navigate New York’s highways.

Such a scamp! John Cole pretty effectively demolishes the idea the John McCain lacks the facility to use, at the very least, a Blackberry, mainly because he keeps fucking doing it. But one of the oddest parts of the Noun-Verb-POW defense in this case is something that John McCain’s actually referred to on his own website – or would have, if he ever brought up his own military service:

But McCain surprised his doctors by making a dramatic comeback. With a ferocious determination to fly again and a tough physical therapy regimen, he got his wings back and not long after was awarded command of the Navy’s largest aviation squadron, VA-174, at Cecil Field in Florida. Blue-chip connections in the Nixon administration helped.

These days, when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is asked about his qualifications to lead and manage, he points to his command of that squadron as proof he has the right stuff to be president.

Note that McCain got his wings back – after Vietnam left him an ABBA-loving maverick with a blank spot for real estate. Meaning, of course, that McCain had the facility to fly a fucking jet.

What you’ll notice about all of this is that after a couple of days of the McCain campaign becoming feminist crusaders, and months of them using his POW credentials to excuse virtually anything that comes out of his mouth (not to mention the past couple of weeks of declarations that Sarah Palin’s experience as a mayor and governor makes her roughly akin to Moses on the “leader of men across the desert of the soul” scale), the McCain campaign’s been entirely quiet on this alleged attack on his injuries. This is because it’s not.

As Jonah updates the post, it’s obvious that he has no idea what he’s arguing or what the truth is:

Some say, So what if he was handicapped? He could still learn how to send email.

Sure, but why would he? Bill Clinton sent two emails during his entire presidency and often admitted he didn’t know squat about the internet.

And in 2000, most people were still watching movies on VHS and listening to music on CDs. If we judge the technological acuity people are supposed to have by what Bill Clinton could do, Wii Tennis is some unthinkably complex undertaking on par with the large hedron collider.

That’s absolutely true, I’m sure. But they need to use computers to get through life. McCain doesn’t. And the fact that he’s not blaming his disability hardly sounds like a serious indictment. If he did blame his disability, many of the same folks yelling at me would be complaining that McCain’s whining.

Now, I’d hardly be surprised if McCain could type for short stretches and all that. The point is, that it’s perfectly understandable why he wouldn’t get in the habit of it.

Of course, the issue isn’t how long McCain can type. It’s that he never learned how to use a computer and admits it openly. And then, of course:

On the other hand: I don’t know what to make of this interview with the New York Times. He sounds awfully web savvy in it, which makes the Obama ad sound unfair. And if you read it closely, it sounds like he knows how to surf with a mouse, but doesn’t do much by way of typing.

So, you see, John McCain can’t use a computer or any sort of e-mailing device for any amount of time at all, except that he probably can, but Bill Clinton didn’t, but he actually can use the internet, which makes the ad wrong in the completely opposite direction, making the entire offense disappear, so in turn, this is all de facto fascism.

It’s telling that Jonah, along with the dozens of conservatives who’ve hopped on board this crazy train, are turning the Republican ticket into two innocent babes in the wood who can’t stand the slings and arrows of even the most indirect criticisms of them or their capacities. Should you criticize Sarah Palin, you hate mothers and women and hunters and hockey and…well, I’m not a particularly big hockey fan. Criticism of John McCain is slapping a prisoner of war in the face, telling him that his service means nothing. The politically correct oversensitivity on display is turning McCain and Palin from the bold reformers they never were into sad little children, constantly needing protection from the scrapes and scratches of the world lest they get a boo-boo or come home crying about their hurt feelings too often.

If Jonah and crew were around in 1974, they were the kind of people who would motivate McCain to heal and become a pilot again, convinced of all the things he couldn’t do. Now, they’re the people demanding his binkie and naptime before he gets too cranky.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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