McCain's Lack Of Computer Skills Not Campaign Obstacle
Sen. John McCain's computer aptitude, or lack thereof, became a hot topic of discussion at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City this week. The forum tackled technology's role in politics and policy. So, when news surfaced that McCain doesn't know how to use a computer, both technophiles and politicos in attendance were intrigued. Some were also involved.
Sen. John McCain's computer aptitude, or lack thereof, became a hot topic of discussion at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City this week. The forum tackled technology's role in politics and policy. So, when news surfaced that McCain doesn't know how to use a computer, both technophiles and politicos in attendance were intrigued. Some were also involved.Members of McCain's Republican campaign staff and their Democratic counterparts who work for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's campaign spoke at breakout sessions during the event. However, it was Tracy Russo, former deputy director of John Edwards' online communications, who really zoned in on the issue after McCain's staffer, Mark Soohoo, said the veteran understands the role computers play in the United States today.
"It's about the frame of reference that comes from being engaged in using the technology and tools that are moving our entire world forward," Russo said. She explained it even better in a blog posting on TechPresident, the Personal Democracy Forum's group blog.
"How do you lead a people forward when you are stuck in the past?," she asked. "How do you inspire, elevate, and imagine the greatness that is ahead if you don't understand the world we must navigate to get to those places?"
I suppose a president wouldn't have to use the computer himself. He certainly has enough staff to browse the news and blogs for him. And, like all famous people, presidents have staff to answer their mail, whether it comes in an envelope or through Gmail.
Still, I can see Russo's point. Americans tend to want representatives who they don't see as elitist or disconnected. They want representatives who know what normal life in the United States is all about. Though it's doubtful any senator deals with all aspects of life without the privilege or conveniences that come with status, that reality probably isn't as important as people's perceptions.
McCain's age certainly could be a factor in the minds of young voters, but I doubt his image is likely to suffer in the eyes of true supporters. And, for those who get most of their information on the Internet, McCain's campaign staff seems to be doing a pretty good job of operating those computers for him. Indeed, his Web site has plenty of Web 2.0 features on its home page, including polls, video, and games.
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