Apparently the McCain campaign is behind the story that he can’t use the internet due to injuries he suffered as a POW. This, from Jake Tapper:
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.
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.
"I read my e-mails, but I don’t write any," McCain told Fortune magazine in 2006. "I’m a Neanderthal — I don’t even type. I do have rudimentary capabilities to call up some Web sites, like the New York Times online, that sort of stuff. No laptop. No PalmPilot. I prefer my schedule on notecards, which I keep in my jacket pocket."
Or, as Ben Smith points out in Politico, it’s possible that the Obama campaign doesn’t "know" this for the same reason that the McCain campaign has been reduced to pushing the story on background – because McCain himself says he’s learning to go online, and he already uses campaign chief Mark Salter’s blackberry. Knowing that Jake Tapper sees factchecking as an abusive liberal practice explains a fair amount, don’t you think?
So anyway, it sounds as if his campaign’s story about the extent of Senator McCain’s disability is evolving, and there is some indication that’s the case.
For instance: Andrew Malcolm, the political editor of the LA Times and, as Laura Bush’s ’00 campaign secretary a former coworker of the Bush veterans on McCain’s campaign staff, wrote a rather fierce blog post on the subject entitled "Oops, Obama ad mocks McCain’s inability to send e-mail. Trouble is, he can’t due to tortured fingers." Unfortunately, as tends to happen* when Mr. Malcolm’s partisan tendencies get away with his judgment,the Times has been forced to amend the post to acknowledge that the candidate himself said otherwise.
That isn’t the only way the LA Times has evolved on McCain’s health. During the primaries, they published an article about McCain’s health which was linked to by WebMD and CBS. According to a reprint in a Florida publication, that article was entitled "John McCain: Physically fit to serve as 44th president?— A host of health issues from skin cancer to torture as a POW could be a liability for the active 70-year-old Arizona Republican senator"
I would link to the article itself, but something funny happened. If you click on any of those outside links – including the single page link on the Florida site and the google cache for the article – the URL has been redirected to a story on the LA Times site about McCain warning NRA members that Hillary and Obama want to take their guns away.
The actual article, with a substantially less inflammatory title – "McCain faces question of fitness to serve, physically. Age and health issues could be campaign liabilities for the GOP presidential candidate" has been moved to here. It discusses the Senator’s physical challenges in some detail. It does not mention either repetitive motion or his hands.**
The Washington Post, on the other hand, does specifically mention Senator McCain’s hands and repetitive motion
Dressed in jeans, an L.L. Bean baseball cap, sunglasses and a white sweat shirt with a cheesy picture of his family on the front, McCain held court as he does almost daily aboard the Straight Talk Express.
Except this time, it was about meat.
Ribs, to be specific. He gets ’em at Costco — the big slabs of pork ribs. And he slaps them on the grill at the lowest possible temperature. Any hotter, he says, and the meat cooks too fast.
His secret recipe is a dry-rub concoction that consists of one-third salt, one-third pepper and one-third garlic powder — and he pours it on. But the real trick, he says, is the fresh lemon juice that he squeezes onto the ribs repeatedly. Keeps ’em juicy.
As I see it, there are two possibilities here: either the stories about McCain’s hands being severely disabled are true, or the stories about McCain’s being a fervent barbecue hobbyist who personally squeezes lemons for hours on end are true.
That it might be possible for me to avoid being one of the nasty liberals, I’m rather hoping Mr. Tapper and Mr. Malcolm will clear up for me which of Senator McCain’s stories I’m to currently believe. I feel I can count on them. Do keep me posted.
*the post in question is back online since rightblogger Patterico (a fellow Bush ally) made an issue of its deletion, and has been edited several times to remove evidence of Mr. Malcolm’s, er, enthusiasm.
** I have, under the circumstances, made a pdf of the article in its current state