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McCain may be in “digital denial,” as Dichter calls it, but his family sure isn’t: His wife, Cindy, has been seen scrolling away on her Blackberry, and daughter Meghan, one of his seven children, blogs from the campaign trail on McCain Blogette.
As for McCain’s Democratic rival, Barack Obama is 46, and thus in an age group where fully 85 percent of Americans are plugged in. A CNN clip available on YouTube shows him so engrossed with his Blackberry while crossing a street that he bumps into the curb.
McCain’s frank admissions of his offline state have led to discussion of whether being wired is a qualification for leading the free world. One aide, Mark Soohoo, defended the senator’s lack of wiredness at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York in June by assuring the panel: “John McCain is aware of the Internet.”
One blogger opined that all the fuss is silly. McCain, wrote Newsweek’s Andrew Romano, hasn’t become computer literate because he hasn’t needed to. “When aides are responding to your messages and briefing you on every imaginable subject, the incentive to get online sort of disappears,” he wrote.
McCain is hardly the only prominent, wealthy, powerful man in the country to lack an affinity with computers. To take one, Sumner Redstone, the 85-year-old chairman of Viacom, “is not an avid user,” says a spokesman, Carl Falto. “He’s capable of going on but doesn’t do it frequently.”