Is McCain the perfect idiot president for the USA?

In a recent story titled McCain Completee and utter netwit, I was made aware that one of the current contenders for the office of President of the United States is effectively computer illiterate.

There are a couple of gob smacking aspects to this. First is that he is a senator in the current government and appears to make no use of the Internet himself. Obviously many of his drones, err, I mean staffers, can take care of many tasks himself but the reality is he is disconnected from the modern age. Many of us have parents or grandparents who are more technically savy with computers than this guy. It is frightening to think that he is so dependant on others. And to say "Everyones reads Drudge" ... sigh. More likely Drudge got lucky once and now everyone on Capital Hill looks at it. He'd do a much better job by paying attention to websites such as Wikileaks. The next big story won't appear on Drudge first.

But perhaps more importantly, he is glaringly disconnected with the modern age. The Internet is already part of everyday life for tens of millions of Americans and in some cases (like moi :) replaces the role once played by the TV. Heck, I wonder if he even has his own mobile(cell) phone? Or does he have an aide to manage that for him too? And perhaps he doesn't even go to the stalls in the bathroom alone either and needs someone to clean him up afterwards?

So will this stop him being elected? Heck no. There's the Amish communities that live in pockets of the USA are choose to live an evenless technical life. That's not to say that they will (or will not) vote for him, just that there is a really huge spectrum of lifestyles in the USA and that some people will find solace in McCain's choices.

In a country that is filled with Christian fundamentalist groups, and other religious groups (like The Family), that lobby the government and pull strings, it would seem that being connected with God is more important than being connected with the present day world that we live in.

But the United State of America is a democracy, thus if the Americans want they can choose to vote for a continuation of Republican policy to hasten the slide down.


So I'm elitist. Or am I? Yes, the Internet is a tool, just as the phone, car, TV, etc are. Would it be appropriate to elect a President that was unfamiliar with all of these? Perhaps one that couldn't drive?

The most significant danger that we face, all of us who use the Internet, is politicians who do not understand the Internet passing laws about how it should be operated and used. Admittedly this is no easy task as the Internet is constantly changing, evolving, making it hard for even those that work with it to keep up. And how do politicians respond? Bills such as the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), proposed bills such as he ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). Having people unfamiliar with the Internet in power poses a very real threat to how it will function in the future. Can you imagine if the luddites such as those that work for the RIAA and MPAA were to be elected to the Whitehouse or Capitol Hill?

Now maybe it is a tall order to expect someone in the President's office or even Government to be familiar with every aspect of everyone's life in the USA, but the Internet is fast becoming as peculiar as the phone. Which is to say that it really isn't all that peculiar and as the backbone of more and more services, it is becoming unavoidable.


If a person wishes to be more connected with God than modern day life then they should do that in the correct way: become a monk or otherwise a member of the church. From time to time that is a calling I find very tempting because it would allow me to be free of many materialistic trappings that I must also pay hommage to.

Politicians don't live in a monestary or in the service of the church, they live in service to us. While political leaders are often sworn in by a member of the clergy, it is really with every one of their constituents that they should be swearing an oath to, regardless of which way they voted (or not.)


How elitist of you. The internet and email are tools, pure and simple. And if it is more efficient and/or cost effective to have others use them for you, then why in the world would you use them yourself? If McCain can get elected without using them himself, then he doesn't need them. It's not like he is a Luddite and claims they are bad, just that he hasn't learned them yet.

Posted by Brian Utterback on July 15, 2008 at 01:09 AM PDT #

Let me preface by saying that I agree that any president should be WELL acquainted with the Internet.

First, you should know that Amish and Luddite are different. While Luddites reject all new technology, Amish usually only defend against its use in the home and/or work (they see it as an unnecessary distraction to family life) . Thus, Amish will often use computers and telephones outside of their homes.

Further, Amish practice a strict non-involvement in government. They do not vote.

Finally, you said: "it would seem that being connected with God is more important than being connected with the present day world that we live in." Is that not the exact point these groups make? For them it IS more important that one be connected with God than be on the internet. I would venture to suggest that the only reason why you see this as ludicrous is because you are agnostic, atheist or deist. If you were a person who believed that God existed and had regular interaction with the course of history, you would probably agree with the "fundamentalists." No?

Yes, McCain is a tool. But an ad hominum attack against his support base doesn't really do nearly as good as the first point you raised: not knowing about the internet is a grave danger for a public policy maker. A better avenue would be to explain WHY the internet is so important to the next phase of our culture and argue why someone should vote for someone who knows about it.

Posted by Nathaniel McCallum on July 15, 2008 at 06:40 AM PDT #

So what would the "job requirements" be for the US president? Ability to use a cell phone? What about TXTing? E-mail? What about blogging? Oh, wait, these days blogging is passe, the next US president should be active on twitter....

Oh, and what about all those chicken farmers out there? Surely the next US president must understand chicken farming.... How else can we know that he understands legislation relating to the trade of poultry?

Oh wait, I think the next US president must be a bicyclist. How else can we trust his environmental policies?

Oh, but he must have blue collar work experience, how else would we know that he understands the working class?

And he needs to have managed a top end company, else how do we know that he has the business acumen to be responsible for the world's biggest economy?

And on and on....

None of those should be requirements.

In fact, a president that has a great deal of experience in any one field is likely a liability for that field -- simply because he's going to be greatly influenced by his own experience rather than identifying and listening to his advisors, who must be the \*real\* experts.

When choosing a President, I think I would look at the following:

\* Integrity -- will the candidate take a stand and stick by it (even one I don't agree with -- lord knows I don't agree with either candidate on several key issues)

\* Honesty -- can I believe the candidate means what he says? No doubletalking allowed

\* People -- who does the candidate surround himself with? Ultimately its not the president but his advisors that \*really\* run the country

\* Patriotism -- and not just to the "country", but to the principles upon which it was founded (the Constitution in particular)

\* Leadership Experience -- what has the candidate done to show he can lead a country of 260M?

\* Last of all Voting Record -- when a candidate has been a senator/representative, how has he voted, and how does this match against his rhetoric? (See Integrity above.)

I'm a Republican. The party has nominated, IMO, the wrong candidate. But I'd far, far rather select McCain than the alternative -- Obama fails on way too many of the key issues identified above, without even getting into specific political positions.

Posted by Garrett D'Amore on July 15, 2008 at 09:15 AM PDT #

You make a very good point, Garrett, the requirements for President are such that it makes no sense to look for one that is experienced in various fields. Afterall, the current President is from the oil state and what do we have? A war for oil in Iraq.

But that's life: politicians get elected with _some_ history (they'd be useless otherwise) that does influence their actions.

10 or 15 years ago, I wouldn't have really been too perturbed if a senior statesman wasn't Internet aware. That was then, this is now. Here in the 21st century and not being Internet aware today is like not being television aware in the 20th century. As more and more people use it, especially the young, to not be "with it" means you're not going to be able to successfully relate to the new culture that is emerging around it.

What do I mean by that? It is like the world and the way in which we modern culture is evolving is leaving behind the likes of McCain. Which is fine if they want to live in senior citizen homes but not so fine if they want to represent their people. Or to put it more succintly, by not being Internet savvy, McCain is already disconnected from large numbers of young voters today.

btw, the "People" point you raise above is very important. Consider who Bush appointed to the various positions around him and what the result of that has been.

Posted by Darren on July 15, 2008 at 11:06 AM PDT #

The fallacy of the "People" point for selecting who will be President is that you typically have no idea who these people are, or will be, until after the election and can change at any time later.

Did anyone actually vote for Rumsfeld?

The problem with this method of people getting into power, vs that of being able to choose a President, is that typically these people do \*not\* represent the interests of normal people, rather they represent the interest of specific companies - does the name Haliburton ring any bells? And if the corporations could have their way (by example), the Bill Of Rights would likely be torn up and thrown away as something that gets in the way of exploiting people to makemoney.

Posted by Darren on July 15, 2008 at 12:53 PM PDT #

As to the people thing, this is where McCain beats Obama, badly.

Obama has had to spend lots of time \*denying\* the various people he has affiliated with -- his pastor, his grandmother, even his senior policy advisor on mid-east affairs.

Its true you never really know the full story, but I've not seen McCain throw any of his long time friends, associates, or family under the bus lately.

Posted by Garrett D'Amore on July 15, 2008 at 02:47 PM PDT #

Another hit - nitpicking, but ..
"Note to McCain: Czechoslovakia doesn’t exist anymore"

Posted by Jan Friedel on July 15, 2008 at 07:18 PM PDT #

Jan, now if only the treaty to build the radar base was between the USA and Czechoslovakia then it would be between the USA and a country that doesn't exist and able to be ignored at any point in time :)

Posted by Darren on July 16, 2008 at 12:56 PM PDT #

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