Hiya everyone! Remember me? I haven’t been blogging much in past months — just rather random posts at my own blog — but I’m hoping to get back to writing and participating here again. Starting with this latest, crossposted.
About a month ago ABC news’ correspondent Jake Tapper reported on John McCain’s choice to not use computers. Barack Obama’s campaign had just released an ad criticizing McCain for being out of touch in a number of ways, including his self-confessed computer “illiteracy.”
Tapper explains for us, though:
Assuredly McCain isn’t comfortable talking about this — and the McCain campaign discouraged me from writing about this — but the reason the aged Arizonan doesn’t use a computer or send e-mail is because of his war wounds.
I realize some of the nastier liberals in the blogosphere will see this as McCain once again “playing the POW card,” but it’s simply a fact: typing on a regular keyboard for any sustained period of time bothers McCain physically.
He can type, he occasionally does type, but in general, the injuries he sustained as a POW — ones that make it impossible for him to raise his arms high enough to comb his hair — mean that small tasks make his shoulders ache, so he tries to avoid any repetitive exercise.
Again, it’s not that he can’t type, he just by habit, avoids when he can, repetitive exercise involving his arms. He does if he has to, as with handshaking or autographs.
Now, I have no doubt it’s true that McCain’s injuries affect him enough that typing causes chronic pain that the man would rather avoid. And I’ve also no doubt he has minions who can and should do many of the computer-related tasks of a busy U.S. Senator and presidential candidate.
But Tapper explicitly claims McCains lack of computer use is not a choice and is because of physical impairment:
It’s certainly possible that the Obama campaign did not know this, since McCain makes it sound in interviews as if this is a matter of choice, not discomfort because of his war wounds.
So, McCain is not computer illiterate, though he did once say he was. (That’s okay. I know a few septuagenarians on a steep computer learning curve.) And he can type, he knows how and can physically do so, Tapper says. It’s just so uncomfortable that he chooses not– no, wait. It’s not a matter of choice. His discomfort means he cannot.
Except that is total crap.
Plenty of us on the intertubes manage to tap something out now and then without full use (or any use) of our fingers, hands or arms. There’s voice recognition software and even free software that allows the somewhat tedious-but-effective typing with a mouse instead of a QWERTY board. I used the latter for a while last year and didn’t even need to sell one of my many cars or houses to make it happen.
Here’s my point: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. One of our presidential candidates has significant physical impairments that, according to Tapper, his own campaign claims are the reason he cannot readily use a computer. Of the 56 million Americans with disabilities, about 65% of disabled adults are unemployed.
Let me say that again. 65% of disabled Americans. Conservatively, that’s 6 out of 10 disabled adults without a job. Compare that to the national rate of unemployment, currently freaking everyone out at a whopping 6.1%.
The rate of unemployed disabled Americans has remained virtually unchanged since WWII, so you might say that it’s an issue needing knowledgeable and committed public officials addressing it. And McCain either does not know that physical disability is not an excuse for not using a computer, or he does not care if he is perpetuating the stereotype that disability makes a person incapable of a basic skill needed for employment in today’s workforce.
Here’s a one-minute YouTube video, with in-screen captioning and open audio description, on the topic:
Brief description of video: Karl Rove, McCain campaign advisor, states for a FOX News interview that McCain can’t use a computer because of his war injuries. His voice and the audio description continue as a number of disabled people, with prosthetic limbs, amputated stumps, and mouth pointers type at computer keyboards. A final collage of these computer users includes an image of FDR in his wheelchair, then fades into a photo of Obama and chants of “Yes, we can!”