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President Obama’s pals in the media are at it again, this time cheering Team Obama’s command of the latest technology. One outlet is entranced by the Obama campaign’s use of Google+ to conduct “the first completely digital interview from the White House.” A mobile technology news site declares that “President Obama’s decision to use Google+” and “embrace of social media…enhances his reputation as a tech-savvy commander-in-chief.” Another media outlet gushes that the Obama campaign represents “the first national political adoption” of mobile credit card readers. Yet another marvels at how “President Obama has Twittered, Googled and Facebooked millions of American voters.” Fast Company expects Team Obama “to storm into new digital territory in the upcoming race,” thanks to the Obama campaign’s hiring of “uber-hipster and tech rebel Harper Reed as the organization’s chief technology officer.” Calling Obama “the Google-style candidate,” The Financial Times adds, with a sense of fait accompli, “Mr. Obama’s campaign Facebook page already has 24m friends.” Translation: Why even bother trying to challenge our tech-savvy, with-it, and above-all, hip commander-in-chief?
This all calls to mind some of the nonsense said early in the Age of Obama.
A Computer Weekly column, for instance, praised “Obama’s technology presidency,” declared the new president a “technology-savvy leader” and applauded Obama for “leadership by example” in the area of information technology.
Perhaps worst of all was a piece penned by Anna Quindlen mocking John McCain because he “doesn’t text-message or have a BlackBerry or use e-mail.” The next president of the United States needs to be a “techie,” she declared, because “Americans cannot afford” a president who is “out of it”—and because America’s national security depends on it. “If Osama bin Laden beat us with a laptop,” Quindlen queried, “shouldn’t we at least have a president who is reasonably conversant with one?”
The short answer was then—and remains today: “Not necessarily.” Being a “techie” is not a prerequisite for being president.
By Quindlen’s logic—and the logic of her media brethren who confuse technological acumen with governing competence—presidents should have a working knowledge of everything that the U.S. government and its enemies use to pursue their respective objectives, as well as everything average Americans use in their daily lives. Of course, we know that’s not possible or necessary.
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