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

(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
Comments () | Archives (471)

The comments to this entry are closed.

While McCain may not be able to personally write e:mails, he dictates and gets his staff to write them for him. As well as the many bills he's proposed and got passed. However, Obama who has no physical limitations can not propose and get bills passed. What's Obama's excuse? It's because Obama can not lead. Obama is all talk and no action. Obama talks about equal pay for women, but pays his female senate staff workers 87 cents to the male senate staff $1, while McCain pays his female Senate staff $1.04 to the males $1. Look closely Liberals, with Obama you've got one of the most inept politicians ever. You guys may actually lose the House of Representative in an election that you should be gaining seats.

By the way, why didn't Obama join the military service ? Oh'' I forgot, when he got out of school, there was NO War going on. Obama thinks there must be a war going on or you don't join the military service and serve your country. He is a lying idiot. The name of his slogan should be Lies, Lies Lies and more Lies.

Hmmm. So what's Stephen Hawkins' excuse? He doesn't seem to have any difficulty using computers.

McCain is McDesperate, are as his sycophants in the play-pretend "media" who are so totally in the tank for him that they'll float these kinds of disgusting lies and excuses.

Oh, and here's a nice pic of McCain clearly lifting his Blackberry over his chest and up to his ear.

Andrew Malcolm, former press secretary to Laura Bush, seems to believe that fractured fingers never heal. I guess when you live in a "science does not exist" bubble, you'd buy that kind of horsecrap.

There's nothing more "tortured" here than Malcolm's tortured pandering.


"McCain does not like to talk details a lot about his wartime experiences"??????????????????????

He was a POW...? Gee... I had no IDEA...!!!!!!

He's never even MENTIONED it... Has he...?????????

Posted by: c earl jr | September 13, 2008 at 04:31 AM


The FACT that McCain was a POW is part of HIS "life story", it is like Obama being the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas. How many times have we had to hear that drivel?

--the response to this info demonstrates why the democrats have this capacity to steal defeat from the jaws of victory--they can't do something simple like admit a mistake--

furthermore what resonated with the convention speech was mccain's utter sincerity and deep patriotism...middle america isn't impressed with this type of pettiness....

..and you guys miss the have nominated someone who does not represent america...a guy that won't protect live birth infants is not a guy in touch with america...and not a guy that will protect the poor average person...he'll go with the prevailing winds which for him are pelosi and reid...go ahead and vote away..and keep denying picked the wrong canidate

The bulk of this post is a LIE lifted from right wing blogs. When are you going to update with a correction.

Here are some materials debunking your post:

Where is the correction?

Are you still working for the Bushes?


I never really anticipated how entertaining it would be to watch a bunch of liberal wackos melt-down.

Best of luck in 2012

Noun, Verb, POW.

Posted by: Thomas See | September 13, 2008 at 06:48 AM

Noun, verb, Rev Wright, Louis Farrakhan, REPARATIONS

Obviously this Obama ad is drawing on ageism. The fact is people know he's old and they are fine with it. It's an exaggeration that he's unable to send an email. But the ad is to portray McCain as old, senile man. It will not work. Each ad like this for Obama shatters his BS image of transcending politics. Wait...that image is already gone. HA HA HA.

After reading some of the comments, it is unfortunate that we don't have more people who can't use e-mail.

Try looking deeper than the spin. This is really an embarrassingly naive posting.

Here's something you might want to check out: STEPHEN HAWKING SENDS EMAILS.

The McCain spin on this is accepted as fact. Perhaps yall could just start posting on Rush's site and save the time...if you're going to recite GOP talking points as fact you are now a partisan outlet.

That's your right, but don't pretend at neutrality. Or, if you just don't know better, don't pretend to be a journalist.

Obama and his puppets are stupid, it will backfire them big. You do not make fun of veterans disability. Obama has lost this election. Do not forget that a lot of elderly people do not use Internet, Obama was making fun of them. He is finished.

I have to admit to being stunned here at the reaction. I really can't understand it at all. Some of these responses are just breathtakingly meanspirited. Seriously, read yourselves. Obama runs this incredibly tin-eared ad, and MCCAIN gets blasted? Have you never heard of speech technology in cell phones? Did you miss the fact that the man *cannot tie his shoes?*

Is Obama saying that his main qualifications is that he was 1) born after McCain and 2) is healthy enough to type? Surely there are other things he can say.

Did any of you actually read the links in this piece? Judging by the comments, I'd say not.

McCain has mentioned that he DOES understand email; he and his wife answer it TOGETHER. She does the typing and calls up the pages he wants to see. His campagin used the web to great extent in 2000. He used to work with communications within the Senate. You can understand the technology without actually touching the keys.

You might also be interested to know that Bill Clinton doesn't use email, and that Bush, who emailed a great deal as Gov., gave it up when he entered the White House for security reasons. I'd be interested know just how wired a President Obama would truly be.

I shudder--I absolutely shudder--to think of what the reaction of some of you would have if Bush or Palin had made the very same mistake Obama has here. Face it: Either Obama and his people don't know how to Google, or they're incredibly mean-spirited. This was a terrible misstep on his part, and either way, I don't think this situation makes him seem very presidential.

I hereby regret voting in the primaries for him.

McCain at the bieginning of the campaign pain was criticized by the MSM for apperaing to stiff on stage.....

I had to have a chance to meet John at a rally, I was a Hillary supporter and had contibuted money to her campaign.............I realized the moment I layed eyes on John that his movements were caused by the effects of his injuries,

His left arm and hand were specifificall well as his spine.

Obama's new slogan should be the gaffes just keep coming!!! Old people unite vote for McCain and get this biggot out of public life. Obama go back to being a community agitator oops I mean community organizer and leave America as she is. People who want socialist change move to a country you like better!!! Maybe all you deranged leftists could move to Germany and have Obama appoint himself leader!

If being a POW has so many affects on McCains everyday life why the hell are we considering him for the white house? What a crock!

If you don't live in John McCain's body, you cannot judge the extent of his injuries. I'm glad to see so many of you are being so compassionate, sympathetic, and non-judgemental.

I am doctor who has worked in a VA hospital. I know plenty of disabled vietnam veterans who use computers. This story is laughable. John McCain deserves our respect, but not sympathy. I don't doubt he will use this angle to attack Obama, and at the same time continue to turn Americans away from his campaign.

Way to go, Mr. Malcolm, nice regurgitation of RNC talking points. Spend the check they'll be sending you wisely, times are tough for those of us that can't remember how many houses we own, there's so many of them.

What's this in your bio?

"a brief stint practicing them as press secretary to Laura Bush in 1999-2000"

Well, that's nice, you apparently won't even bother being objective.

Yes well, Al Gore invented the internet and look where that got him. If I cared about technical savvy, I'd vote for the guy at Staples who debugged my computer. It's a stupid ad, a waste of money, and it invites people to ask if Obama's never served in the military how can he be commander-in-chief. McCain's got plenty of real weaknesses to go after, but that would take some real thought instead of bone-headed stunts like this.

McCain was a POW.

And, as he has repeatedly explained, a POW cannot be expected to be able to do anything and cannot be criticised for anything he does wrong.

The technology writer for the NY TImes, David Pogue, writes without using his fingers. Software such as Naturally Speaking has been available for years.

did McCain also loose all ability to learn anything about the economy or finance or monetary policy in the prison camp?

So, that's why McCain can sign autographs and shake hands but cannot type. GIVE ME A BREAK!!!


Like you Mr. Malcom, McCain has no clue.

Bull. Do you want multiple quotes from the McCain campaign and McCain himself saying he is learning to use his computer? And do you want pictures of him using a blackberry with its tiny, little keys?

And he doesn't like to talk about being a POW? Are you kidding me? That's all he likes to talk about. Did you miss the convention?:

I don't know if any of the above commentators will read this, but wouldn't it be worth a moment's time to find out if the ad is factual in the first place? Turns out McCain does send and receive email each day and has for many years. But since he cannot use a keyboard effectively he dictates his outgoing messages. And he is modest enough to describe himself as "computer illiterate," though he knows as much as most people and more than many. The viciousness and irrational hatred revealed in these comments is astonishing.

Actually, even if McCain did make a habit of reminding others of his war injuries he would just be utilizing a tactic that goes to the beginnings of the republic. George the First (You know, Washington) was quite adept at reminding others that he had given not merely years but eyesight to the war. Now the fact is he probably would have needed glasses anyway but being able to blame his failing eyesight on his war exertions made big points for him.

The fact of the matter is there are several issues Mr. O does not want to bring to mind to the American people:
1. Mr. McCain's heroism and sacrifice. We are all susceptible to heroes and in wartime a veteran has a greater appeal to those whose sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, etc are in harms way than does a non-veteran..
2. McCain's relative experience compared with Obama's. This is why the current attacks on Palin are stupid. If she is not experienced enough to be VP there is no rational way to say he is experienced enough to be POTUS.
3. Bipartisanship - Mr. McCain has worked together with democrats on far more issues than Mr. O has worked with republicans.
4. Reform - McCain has opposed his party often enough that few in power could be found who would willingly support him before the rank and file gave him the victories in the primary. Though a longtime insider as far as being sent to Washington goes, he remains an outsider as far as the party machine is concerned. When has Mr. O stood up to the seedier members of his own party?

For the maroons here who believe McCain is faking his war injuries and his inability to use email:

"McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes."

- Boston Globe, 3/4/2000

"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."

- Forbes Magazine, 05/29/2000

Please keep up the attacks. They help the McCain/Palin ticket.

I read the comments here ranging from scoffing at Senator McCain's POW status (do you think he chose that?) and that some here think it's a ploy for sympathy to point out that Senator McCain has permanent damage due to his torture in captivity. Have you no empathy or shame? Obama's wife said he was empathetic. I guess he showed the world the truth in this ad. You are so misguided as to show the world exactly what is wrong with some Americans. You do not understand the core of this country and you don't have any respect for your fellow citizens. But, we already knew that.

Oh this is such BS even steven hawkins could use a computer.

Gee, just a few weeks ago, McCain was simply uninterested in e-mail...or even going online. But now that it's an issue, it's because he was a POW? Why doesn't his campaign make up a list of things his Vietnam experience has effected (and while we're at it, words that we can't use to describe McCain and far it's lipstick, pig, old) , and get over it.

Here's the transcript of a NYTimes interview, published without protest by the McCain campaign, from July:

Q: What websites if any do you look at regularly?

Mr. McCain: Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes.

(Mrs. McCain and Ms. Buchanan both interject: “Meagan’s blog!”)

Mr. McCain: Excuse me, Meagan’s blog. And we also look at the blogs from Michael and from you that may not be in the newspaper, that are just part of your blog.

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.

Q: Do you use a blackberry or email?

Mr. McCain: No

Mark Salter: He uses a BlackBerry, just ours.

Mr. McCain: I use the Blackberry, but I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail. I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone. I have the luxury of being in contact with them literally all the time. We now have a phone on the plane that is usable on the plane, so I just never really felt a need to do it. But I do – could I just say, really – I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that. And I understand that something appears on one blog, can ricochet all around and get into the evening news, the front page of The New York Times. So, I do pay attention to the blogs. And I am not in any way unappreciative of the impact that they have on entire campaigns and world opinion.

Guess he can't use his Blackberry or push the buttons on his coffemaker either. What a retard you were to fall for this Jonah twit. Where is his medical degree from?

hey stay classy LA Times




I am a lifelong Demorat who is voting McCain in the fall. This cheap attack from Obama smacks of his arrogrance, immaturity and total lack of any respect to folks who have given their limbs in defense of our nation

He can manipulate barbecue on the grill for dozens of members of the press, but can't peck out letters on a keyboard? Give me a break.

Attention Socialist idots. McCain's injuries make it difficult and painful to type long emails. Yes, there are voice recognition programs available, but he chooses to do it the way that works best for him. The man is a US Senator and has staff to help him out. Since when does the ability to type qualify one for President of the United States??? By the way, it's day 274 and I am still waiting for someone to name one significant accomplishment (other than self-promotion) made by Obama...tick,tock. Come on Socialists...give me an Obama accomplishment.

Nice try, hack. It's nice to know the LA Times employs staff that can copy memes off of right wing blogs. McMaverick can work a cell phone and Blackberry, he can use a keyboard.

POW! POW! POW! (repeat as often as necessary)

So he can't send an email. Can you Obamabots fly an A-4?

And you CAN send an email. Does that mean YOU are qualified to be president?

Gee, I thought liberals were supposed to be smarter than this.

I guess Washinton, Kennedy, Reagan, Eisenhower and FDR couldn't be great Presidents today if they didn't use a computer or email. The dem's are imploding and your talking computers?
Liberalism is a mental disorder!

I thought John Kerry was a war hero also... Wait - Wait - I forget, Republicans did not respect war heros 4 years ago when you had draft-dodging George Bush running. Not consistent. They need to stop playing the victim. Even, George did not do that.

But, I was a POW, is getting a little old.

Oh, and if you want to see 8-9 photos of McCain using a Blackberry with no apparent problems, click over to

By the way, wasn't this reporter Laura Bush's press secretary?

Andrew Malcolm can't use his brain. I'm not sure if there's an assistive device for that.

Explain this, Andrew:

"BRZEZINSKI: Does John McCain, does he use the internet? Does he use email? [...]

DAVIS: He actually is, he always is grabbing people's Blackberrys on the bus. In fact, no reporter's Blackberry is safe from his prying eyes. He loves to tool around on the internet, he especially loves the videos that get produced that usually poke fun at him. I think that's his most entertaining part of the internet."

Shut your hack mouth.

Oh, please. There are people without limbs who manage to write entire books (see Hirotada Ototake's "No One's Perfect"), but you want us to believe that John McCain's condition makes it impossible under any circumstances to compose and send emails? McCain has made it clear in previous statements that he (until recently) did not use the computer and did not rely on email for communication; instead, he preferred to conduct business face-to-face and over the phone. It's perfectly obvious that Obama's ad has nothing to do with his physical limitations, and everything to do with his self-described lack of interest in or knowledge of electronic forms of communication other than the telephone.

The fractured fingers excuse is lame. There are assistive devices for people with disabilities that would enable them to use a computer. A computer is one of the primary communcication devices for many disabled people.

It's interesting how, when he ran against Bush, McCain's POW experience had him being billed as a volatile wacadoodle. Now all of a sudden these very same people want to bill him as untouchable.

I would rather be criticized for lacking technological skill than have it implied that I'm some kind of pedophile.

Who does that?

That's sickening. That's cruel. And the article does underscore what McCain suffered for his county. How fitting it would be -- from the Hanoi Hilton to the White House.

I have been in the IT field for more than 20 years not, and I can attest from my own experience that about a third of programmers and maybe half of support personnel cannot touch-type. This does not prevent their doing the job.
I also think I am not alone in thinking that the "POW thing" has been milked for more than it is worth.
John, we get it... you are the world's leading expert on third-world prison reform. Now, what has that to do with being President?
War heroes get medals and parades... leaders get to be President... not always the same thing.

Um, John McCain already uses a computer.

So this garbage about "tortured fingers" is false. Just like every other word out of McCain's mouth. Does Andrew Malcolm work for the McCain campaign? Or did he just have a really good ride on the tire swing?

okay to all you democratic party imbeciles who think this is a sympathy card play and it's time for McCain to get with technology, you're fools. First of all, McCain receives emails, reads them and often Cindy helps type the responses, he is familiar with blogs and their impact on the campaign, etc. The problem is, not only was Obama's "attack" totally lame, it now seems completely lacking in any kind of sensitivity to veterans (before it was just insulting, um, older people, you know the ones who vote) just wait for the apology from Obama, it's coming.

FYI, I'm a dem, I was for Hillary, now I'm just embarrassed.

Do you actually have a real job at the Times? Does it have anything to do with "Reporting" or "News" ?

Just wanted to know, given what you have posted with (I assume) all seriousness.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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