'McCain Can't (i.e., Doesn't) E-Mail' Claim Not Only a Lie; It's Irrelevant to the Presidency

September 13th, 2008 10:52 AM

John Stephenson at NewsBusters early this morning asked, “Will (the) Media Report Obama’s Mocking of McCain’s Disability?”

The answer is "I doubt it," at least beyond their blogs. Print edition or televised examples will be rare to non-existent.

Two other pertinent items will also probably be ignored:

  • Bill Clinton's acknowledged lack of tech skills and virtual non-use of e-mail.
  • More important, the high likelihood that the next President of the United States, like his two predecessors, will rarely, if ever, use e-mail.

NB commenter "mikej" at Stephenson's post did some web searching a falsely giddy Team Obama apparently didn't have the time for (or do they not know how?). "mikej" found the following January 28, 2004 CNN Reuters item carried at CNN.com about Bill Clinton's nearly non-existent e-mailing during his presidency (bolds after title are mine):

Clinton's gift to Internet age: only 2 e-mails

The archives of the Bill Clinton presidential library will contain 39,999,998 e-mails by the former president's staff and two by the man himself.

"The only two he sent," Skip Rutherford, president of the Clinton Presidential Foundation, which is raising money for the library, said on Monday.

One of them may not actually qualify for electronic communication because it was a test to see if the commander in chief knew how to push the button on an e-mail.

Former Ohio Sen. John Glenn has the distinction of being the first American to orbit the Earth and the only person to receive an e-mail written by Clinton when he was in office.

The e-mail was sent with the help of Clinton staffers to the space shuttle while it was in orbit and Glenn was a part of the crew.

The bolded items show that Bill Clinton sent no official e-mails without assistance while he was president.

George W. Bush has also barely used e-mail as President, but it isn't because he is unable.

An accessmylibrary.com item that isn't available without a library membership indicates that Bush stopped e-mailing family and friends once he entered office.

Though I could not find evidence of it (maybe I need help from "mikej"), my memory is that he was advised to stop using e-mail completely upon inauguration.

Regardless, by the time this Wall Street Journal blog item appeared in October 2006, the president had virtually ceased using e-mail, for reasons that the new president will not, and more than likely should not, ignore (bold is mine):

In a CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo, Bush was asked a question on many of our minds: I’m curious, have you ever Googled anybody? Do you use Google?

According to CNBC’s unofficial transcript, he replied: Occasionally. One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see that. I forgot the name of the program, but you get the satellite and you can — like, I kind of like to look at the ranch on Google, reminds me of where I want to be sometimes. Yeah, I do it some. He added: I tend not to email or — not only tend not to email, I don’t email, because of the different record requests that can happen to a president. I don’t want to receive emails because, you know, there’s no telling what somebody’s email may — it would show up as, you know, a part of some kind of a story, and I wouldn’t be able to say, 'Well, I didn’t read the email.' 'But I sent it to your address, how can you say you didn’t?’ So, in other words, I’m very cautious about emailing.

While we're at it, let's make sure the full record of refutation is all in one place (bolds are mine):

(Boston Globe; March 4, 2000; via Ace and Sweetness & Light)

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.

(Forbes; May 29, 2000; via Ace and Jonah Goldberg at the Corner)

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.

(New York Times; July 13, 2008; via Ed Morrissey at Hot Air)

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.

Let's review:

  • Barack Obama and his campaign took out an ad that, among other things, mocked opponent John McCain's tech-savviness and inability to e-mail.
  • It turns out that the inability to e-mail is due to McCain's war-caused physical handicaps. In fact, McCain has been an e-mail devotee for at least eight years, receiving help from a loving spouse to respond to messages.
  • It turns out that a credible argument can be made, as Jonah Goldberg at the Corner has, that McCain “actually has more cyber-cred than Obama.” What about "regarded as the US Senate's savviest technologist" doesn't Team Obama understand?
  • Obama and his campaign used as its central claim McCain's supposed inability to do something (which he actually does, with help) that the next president will probably continue not doing, or will at most do very rarely, for the reasons President Bush cited.

In the process, the Obama campaign and its candidate wasted time and money on an irrelevant claim, while exposing its deep-seated guttural instincts and thought processes for all the world to see.

Keep it up, guys and gals. On this one, it probably won't matter that traditional media will steadfastly ignore it.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.