Word from the McCain camp today: John McCain created the Blackberry.
But wait, loyal readers will protest, wasn’t the Blackberry developed by RIM?
Maybe John McCain was secretly moonlighting as an engineer in Waterloo, Ontario during the last decade? If so, the Wikipedia page about the Blackberry is woefully incomplete. Why, this one fact could singlehandedly reverse the whole perception that the septuagenarian senator from Sedona (where one of his 10 homes is located) is out of touch with modern technology and culture.
Wait…oh…never mind. Turns out it was a “boneheaded joke” (in the words of the McCain campaign) from an adviser who was wildly overreaching in trying to spin his man as in touch with economic issues. Here’s CNN’s take on it:
Sen. John McCain’s senior domestic policy adviser said Tuesday that the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device was a “miracle that John McCain helped create.”
The adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, discussing the nation’s economic woes with reporters, said that McCain — who has struggled to stress his economic credentials — did have experience dealing with the economy, pointing to his time on the Senate Commerce Committee.
Pressed to provide an example of what McCain had accomplished on that committee, Holtz-Eakin said the senator did not have jurisdiction over financial markets, then he held up his Blackberry, telling reporters: “He did this.”
“Telecommunications of the United States, the premiere innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce Committee. So you’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create,” Holtz-Eakin said. “And that’s what he did. He both regulated and deregulated the industry.”
This comment is, of course, eerily evocative of Al Gore’s misstep in 2000 when he was perceived to have claimed credit for having invented the Internet. Vice President Gore, in an interview with CNN, said, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” This comment was at least as defensible (maybe more so) than Mr. Holtz-Eakins’ but was twisted and amplified by Gore’s opponents (and the media) to ridicule him and his alleged presumption. Given the participation of then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey and then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in that effort, turnabout is only fair play.
The Obama campaign, which seems to be rapidly regaining its footing in the post-convention world, didn’t waste any time in putting out just the right comment:
“If John McCain hadn’t said that ‘the fundamentals of our economy are strong’ on the day of one of our nation’s worst financial crises, the claim that he invented the BlackBerry would have been the most preposterous thing said all week,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
Team McCain, sensing itself on slippery ground already, was almost as quick to repudiate the spin:
Meanwhile, McCain senior aide Matt McDonald said that the senator “laughed” when he heard the comment.
“He would not claim to be the inventor of anything, much less the BlackBerry. This was obviously a boneheaded joke by a staffer,” McDonald said.
Given how badly Team McCain has been bruised in the last 24 hours on the economy, I’m a little skeptical he’s laughing a lot right now.
PS – For a really long, but meticulous, dissection of the Gore drama, check this out. internet marketing software fine