Andrew Romano is complaining that we’re expecting too much from McCain when it comes to the intertubes.
For one thing, McCain’s computer illiteracy doesn’t reflect a lack of curiosity–it reflects a lack of necessity. Over the past 10 years, most adult Americans have encountered and explored computers primarily in the workplace, where the ability to communicate and find information on the Internet has gradually become a required skill. But McCain’s job in the U.S. Senate–where all communication and information has to be filtered through staffers–has actually made fluency more difficult to achieve (or at least less necessary). When aides are responding to your messages and briefing you on every imaginable subject, the incentive to get online sort of disappears.
Here’s the problem – the Internet is rapidly becoming the basic communication tool of our times. To use an analogy that’s more McCain’s speed, it would be like Theodore Roosevelt showing up in the White House unsure of what a telephone was, or FDR not knowing how to tune a radio or Nixon not understanding how to turn on a television. Nobody expects McCain to design a web site or produce his own Youtube videos. Please, God, no Youtube videos from the McCain camp.
But we do expect him to be at least passingly familiar with a computer and/or the internet, able to understand its basic use, particularly as it’s one of the building blocks of the 21st century economy. Nobody expected FDR to assemble the microphone he used for his fireside chats, but it would have been mightily fucked up if he didn’t understand how people made their fancy sound boxes steal his voice.