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Oops, Obama ad mocks McCain's inability to send e-mail. Trouble is, he can't due to tortured fingers

September 13, 2008 |  3:25 am

(UPDATE: An updated paragraph citing McCain learning computer skills is appended below.)

As part of its effort to show the 72-year-old Republican Sen. John McCain as old and out of touch, the Democratic Party's hip campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, which frequently says it honors the former POW's military service to his country, Friday released a new ad.

As noted Friday by our blogging colleagues over at the Technology blog here, the ad says, among other things: "1982, John McCain goes to Washington. Things have changed in the last 26 years, but McCain hasn't.

"He admits he doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail."

Here's the ad. Listen for yourself.

Like many of his generation, McCain does not like to talk details a lot about his wartime experiences, certainly not about any lingering physical symptoms. To be honest, it could sound like complaining and, as he's ruefully noted, unlike many others, McCain did come home.

The former pilot does joke sometimes about flying his plane into a telephone-pole-sized North Vietnamese missile.

Last week in his speech to the Republican National Convention, McCain opened up more than usual, mentioning his two broken arms and broken leg from ejecting over Hanoi, and his 66 months of imprisonment and torture, calling it simply working him over.

But something he did not go into in that speech were ...

... some of the lingering results of his poor medical treatment and brutal beatings.

Here's a passage from a lengthy Boston Globe profile on McCain that was published the last time he ran for president. It was headlined "McCain character loyal to a fault." It was written by Mary Leonard.

And it was printed more than eight years ago, on March 4, 2000.

It is available online, where Jonah Goldberg of The Corner blog at the National Review found it.

"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."

(UPDATE: A spokesman for the Obama campaign and numerous Ticket readers point out a Huffington Post item from July in which McCain says he is learning how to go online and "I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need." That complete post and a photo of McCain using a cellphone is available here.)

Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer denied that the freshman Illinois senator's ad was making an issue of McCain's age. "It's extraordinary," he said, "that someone who wants to be our president and commander in chief doesn't know how to send an e-mail."

The Obama campaign has seen some significant and disturbing poll shifts since its convention in Denver, including a broad movement of white women toward the GOP ticket after that party named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin its vice presidential nominee. And some local and congressional Democrats have begun to fret and grumble over a perceived softness in the Obama-Biden ticket.

According to the Associated Press, Obama campaign manager David Pfouffle issued a stern campaign strategy memo Friday that said, in part:

"Today is the first day of the rest of the campaign. We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain's attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people."

The "big issues."

Like fractured fingers?

-- Andrew Malcolm

Navy pilot John McCain as a prisoner of war in Hanoi
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