July 15th, 2008
03:03 PM ET

Could McCain’s lack of computer skills land him a regular job?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/15/art.mccain.phone.jpg]
Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst
AC360° Contributor

The 71-year-old senior senator from Arizona says he really doesn’t have a need to use a computer or a Blackberry, relying on staffers instead.

Now explain to me how we spent so much time in the primary discussing Sen. Barack Obama and his inability to bowl, and Sen. Hillary Clinton throwing down shots of whiskey, all in an effort to show they are like the rest of us, but John McCain can’t even send an email?

Think about this for a second: If McCain tried to apply for an office job today, he would be summarily rejected for having no computer skills. Imagine the conversation:

“Mr. McCain, the job we have for you requires the ability to type fast, research information on various search engines, and correspond with employees in other parts of the world via email. Can you handle these tasks?”

“Uh, no. I’ve never used a computer, just learned what Google is, and haven’t even used a Blackberry.”

“Sir, you do know that the ability to do your job effectively requires at least SOME basic computer skills.”

“Sure, but I’ve been a U.S. Senator for more than 20 years, shouldn’t that count for something?”

“Thanks for coming by, sir. We’ll let you know what we decide.”

So, I’m just asking: In the age where everyone is talking about who has the necessary experience to be president; who is to young or too old; who last pumped their own gas; which candidate is more of a “regular” American; do you think having a basic understanding of a computer should be added to the list of requisite skills to be President of the United States?

Can a U.S. president talk proficiently about taking advantage of technology to streamline the nation’s bloated bureaucracy if he really doesn’t know how to send an email?

Simply put, would you hire someone with no computer skills whatsoever to be president?

(Note to any folks with NO sense of humor: just having a little fun here.)

Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics • Roland S. Martin
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL


    Hillary is a terrific politician.........no doubt. If Obama was not the nominee........she would be. And, with no Obama,I would of voted for her as well. If you voted for Hillary then there is no reason not to unite and vote for Obama. Hillary's positions are almost exactly the same as Obama's. Hillary will be in a cabinet position along side Obama. But, in the event Hillary IS chosen as VP, can you say you wouldn't vote for her then?

    July 15, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  2. Andre

    Monika (July 15th, 2008 5:10 pm ET) has got it all right, PLUS ......

    ......... any director of any company who can afford a staff to be informed and to inform, uses a computer nowadays.
    There must be some reasons for that .............., or not?
    Please think for yourself, which of their reasons could similarly apply to the president of the country and which extra reasons may apply, just because he IS the president ............. .
    200 years ago the fire brigade and the doctor did their job without a phone, because there was no phone ........... .

    Good luck with McCain in the 21st century !!!

    July 15, 2008 at 9:42 pm |
  3. James Dylan

    The ability to use a computer has nothing to do with being the President. This country ran just fine, if not better, before the blackberry was ever even thought of. The President's job is not to be sending emails, surfing the net, or text messaging; all would be a waste of his time. Roland might as well of said he's to old to drive so he must be incompetent. Of course a President doesn't need to drive either. Quit trying to mask your ageism and just say he's to old. Before you say I have no sense of humor, know I think its funny; just not ha ha. There's horror in my laughter.
    CNN, get rid of this guy. The mask of his journalism is far to easy to see through. He's nothing more than a rabble like O'Rielly, Oberman, Hannity & Combs, and so on. Beware the rabble; even when they speak the truth they find a way to lie.

    July 15, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  4. lampe

    I really think that the underachiever is Obama,or maybe he is not any type of achiever at all. At least McCain has been in the Senate longer than a year or to. And the only reason Obama says he would have voted no on the war, was because he had no vote. So he can say anything he wants, which is exactly what he does he changes his mind ever day to say just what you fools want to hear. McCain\Clinton08

    July 15, 2008 at 9:07 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    No computer skills? My what a shortcoming! However, one that a lot of corporate management shares – their secretaries do their email for them. And you would be surprised where some of the management that doesn't know anything about computers work – some are at computer consulting firms; you know the ones that come in and do your computer work for you. I know because I worked for one and it was a pain trying to explain anything technical to them – you could see their eyes literally glaze over.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 15, 2008 at 9:00 pm |


    The story, which was reprised on the blog Rum, Romanism and Rebellion before being blasted out by Think Progress, goes like this: In an appearance before the National League of Cities and Towns in Washington D.C., McCain supposedly asked the crowd if they had heard "the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die?"

    The punch line: "When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, "Where is that marvelous ape?"

    July 15, 2008 at 8:59 pm |
  7. nobushthirdterm.com

    Why does anyone think McCain knows anything about "stopping us from being bombed"? What experience does he have with it?

    Unless maybe he plans to crash a jet on them....

    The fact that this man is a failure at economics and graduated at nearly the bottom of his class AND has failed to keep up with current technology (geez... the "internets" have been around for way over 10 years) only point out that he is an amazing UNDERACHIEVER.

    Just what this country needs. Another underachiever. No, thanks.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:50 pm |
  8. lampe

    Kent, i've read quite a few of your blogs, sounds to me like you might just be one of the haters you are talking trash about. Why don't you tell me exactly what Obamas change really is. Because as I see it we are really tired of all you Obama supporters bad- mouthing anyone who has anything to say about your boy. I voted for Sen. Clinton and I am very proud of that fact. I will not vote for Obama, because I see the change he has already brought about. ie. hate -filled remarks about anyone who won't vote for him have to be racist, if this is the change he is about count me out. i will not vote for someone whose campaign brings about nothing but hate from his supporters. He is the reason the democratic party is in the shape it's in.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  9. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL


    I like reading your posts and commentary on CNN...........no matter what the haters have to say...................

    Obama 08

    July 15, 2008 at 8:29 pm |
  10. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    I have a 5 yr old son that gets on the internet by himself and finds his Cartoon Network all by himself. You telling me we're gonna put a man in as President that my 5 yr old can outsmart?

    July 15, 2008 at 8:27 pm |
  11. Gary Chandler in Canada

    This SHOULD have been the Beat 360 photo!
    No wonder McCain avoids the Internet. He is, his flip flopping, the MAIN story on Google and Utube. Utube the one where he is saying the Iraq war would be a quick victory, then his, 'anybody who thought it would be a quick victory was stupid and naive'.
    Google his 61 flip flops. on everything and anything,, gay marriage, abortion, taxes, offshore drilling, torturing detainees, the King holiday, and on and on.
    The 'cute' part is the McCain supporters are always saying Obama is 'just as bad' as their candidate!? McCain allowed 100 flip flops, Obama allowed zero?

    July 15, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  12. Genevieve M, TX

    Why is McCain holding a brick?

    July 15, 2008 at 8:08 pm |
  13. lampe

    I would rather have a pres. that knows beyond a shadow of a doubt,how to keep people from bombing us and keep us safe. I makes no difference to me if Sen. McCain knows how to use the computer. He will have plenty of people to do that for him, when he is POTUS. Obama, can't even keep his word on any promises, he made against Sen. Clinton, how can we trust or believe him even if he does know how to use a blackberry. Man! Roland everyday your really starting to slip. I think maybe you should ask the man in the mirror who is showing his true racists self. I also did not like the remarks made on T.V. last night from you and that other man. Saying if " Obama doesn't win their will be roiting in the streets, fron the young Blacks" funny sounds sort of like fear-mongering to me, isn't that just what you accused The New Yorker last night. shame on both of you, you can't have it both ways.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  14. danny c.

    I dont see how its possible to run the United States of America and not know how to use a computer. I will give him credit at least he is honest, but still all presidential nominies should know how to use a computer.

    July 15, 2008 at 7:42 pm |
  15. Loretta from California

    It would be nice if he would take the time to learn how to find his way around the INTERNET, but I have no doubt that he will surround himself with people who are computer literate, and who will be able to provide him with all the information that he needs.

    I have a question for you Roland. Why is it that when we use the word "racism" our post are blocked from CNN's blogs? Or more specifically Jack Cafferty's blogs.

    July 15, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  16. Oscar

    No McCain has no need to learn a computer. Even tho my own 80 year old grandmother can use one with the best of them. Why would he ever have to worry about money. Didnt his wife who is on board of Budwiester beer who just sold out to a OVERSEA company for 50 billion. Which his wife didnt seem to mind selling a piece of america history to a highest bid forgien company. That sure shows me they love and care about america. So which the millions she going to get off the sell McCain has no need for a job would he ?

    July 15, 2008 at 7:21 pm |
  17. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    McCain does not have the skills needed for today's job market. His thinking isn't up to today's way of thinking and he lacks the "toolbox" that is required for the job market and the technology that is being used and developed..

    July 15, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  18. Susan


    Bills are still signed into law with a pen. No technology required !!!!


    July 15, 2008 at 6:32 pm |
  19. Charlie

    So what if he doesn't know how to work a computer....the Prez just needs to be able to press that big red button right??

    July 15, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  20. Jan from Wood Dale, IL

    Oprah has admitted to have never sent an email or work on a computer, and she's a billionaire. So your point is?

    July 15, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  21. Renee

    @ Stacy:

    Great point! Thanks for the reminder.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  22. Emma in Houston TX.

    Leave the man alone ! So what if he does not have any computer skills. He is 71 yrs old and will not be looking for a job any time soon. Besides, he has a rich wife and will not have to depend on computer skills to pay his bills !

    July 15, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  23. Cynthia

    Roland, its not only his nonuse of a computer but also the teleprompter. We not only want a President that can walk the walk but also be able to talk the talk.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  24. Monika

    HA! John McCain doesn't need to know how to use a computer or other technology. I just heard him say this morning he KNOWS how to win wars. How does he know that? By being shut down in an airplane 40 years ago? I'll tell you how he knows that: I bet GOD told him, just like GOD told GW Bush to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, I'm sure that's how he knows.

    You see, McCain (like Bush) never held a regular job. He has no idea whatsoever how regular people live in this country or anywhere around the world. All he knows is how to be a politician. And I have yet to see one single politician who lives like regular people.

    I'm sure McCain is one of those "chosen ones" who communicates with God and I'm sure he feels it's his "calling" to be the leader of this country. After all, there is still plenty of work left to do: There are still oil fields that are unexplored, there are still a few trees left standing, there are plenty of countries left to invade, many people left to kill. Too many people still have jobs and nice homes, and we still can manage to breathe the air despite the oil barons' efforts to destroy our planet completely.

    Bush and Co. have done a wonderful job running this country into the ground, and we need someone equally unqualified and ignorant to finish the job and turn this nation into a third-world country. Who better suited for the job than someone like McCain who is totally out of touch with reality and who has no idea what it takes for an average person to survive.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  25. Maritza

    You did't think before you typed this post, McCain's credentials, experience on National Security, foreign policy, Iraq, the entire middle East, years of hands on work by way of action in the Senate, understanding what it is like to fight an enemy that wants to take America down, his list of attributes and most relevant job related experience ,are proven and can be tracked , concider the strength of his charactor, to withstand the physical and psychological torture he endured for five long years , the isolation of solitary confinement , concider how inspite of the horrific situation he suffered, he is still humble and rarely speaks of what he exerienced, McCain continued to serve his country. He didn't whine and complain about how we can't speak french when we travel to abraod, or say what that we are bitter Americans that cling to our guns and religion, and by the way ,his wife DOES like America, if he can;t use a blackberry ?at least he can lead efficiently with experience and intergrity , at least McCain has been to Iraq , on the ground and anywhere he's qualified to be President , type that in your blackberry.


    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  26. Stacy

    @Renee–Actually, the president's main job is to protect the Constitution:

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    Funny how we seem to have forgotten that.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  27. TF

    I think that two strikes against McCain. His lack on economics and new tech or understanding off. Yes he can rely on his aides but who are they and what agendas do they have?

    July 15, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  28. Shelley, Washington the State

    Again Roland, great article. My parents are 40 years older than myself. The technology gap between the 2 generations is huge. I do believe the higher you get on the ladder or up in the world it should also require you to know more. I mean honestly, truly you can't get an office or sales job without computer skills. Your average works in an office everyday. Oh and did I mention I am 34 and consider myself pretty tech savvy, however my 13 year old niece operates my blackberry better than I do.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  29. GF

    LOL like other executives in the past, McCain will have his own personal assistant to dictate emails/letters and do searches for him on the web. Now if he was applying to become an assistant like I already am – he would never even get the interview!

    July 15, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  30. Suzy

    Despite the note included, it seems like some people still don't get that this piece was humorous. lol

    And yes, I think the POTUS should know how to use a computer for at least the basics, even if he doesn't have to do it very often. Maybe McCain can have one of his staffers teach him!

    July 15, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  31. Michael, NC

    "Mr Obama, are you a proud citizen who supports the patriotic justice of our free country?...No...ok then, I am sorry, but you don't qualify for the presidency."

    July 15, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  32. Emma

    There are still quite a few people who don't know how to use the computer and/or internet. I don't see how this makes Senator McCain unqualified to be President. I'm sure President Bush doesn't sit around and email leaders of other countries. If we're concerned with qualifications, then we should look at Senator Obama's resume.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  33. Sam Johnson

    I can understand how McCain could still be out of the loop with computers, and I don't think that using a computer is a prerequisite for being president. Having said that, when I cast my vote for the presidency, I will be voting for the person that I feel is MOST capable (out of the choices of course) to lead our nation.

    In this day and age, everything is run by computers. I feel that not being able to use one limits your ability to be the most responsive or informed while occupying one of the most important jobs ever. Sure aids can give you reports and what not, but that can be limiting. I will not vote based on an ability to use a computer of course, but I will definitely take it into consideration...

    July 15, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  34. J. C. Mclamb

    Why are we paying the prices we are paying. First make it if a company takes there jobs to another country then they can not do business selling those same products, parts or types of products in our country for ten (10) years and that goes for automobile parts and If they take american jobs then they don't need american profits.
    Tell Congress and the Senate pull your head out of the sand. We are and have been in a recession for the past 8 months. Just because you give yourselves a raise every term does not mean that we are not in a recession. I say put the salary of our elected officials in the hands of the people where we are the ones that set your salaries. Either that or you can not make any other money for lectures and motivational speeches. It Is time the People took back the Government for the people by the people. It does not matter that Mccain cannot use a computer he may not have anyone in he presidency that can afford the electricity to run a computer and He has bigger fish to fry taking care of his and Georges buddies if he makes it to the office which I dought that he will beat Obama and Hillary should not be counted out she has a plan and it will help the american public no matter how bad the press and her peers treat her she will be there for the american people.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  35. Kevin Facey

    This is to Cindy,

    We give politicians a hard time for trivial reasons, why not do the same with McCain. I see no harm or foul about it. However, if he were younger, I think that McCain, would be using a computer.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  36. JC- Los Angeles

    The connected and the privileged few could never land a "regular" job and/or compete with the self-made, hard working, experienced and intelligent general public.

    The select few fail upward into positions of power; judging from the current state of our nation, you can get a good idea of their skill sets.

    McCain? married into money. Bush? born into money. Kennedy? same. Pelosi? husband's loaded; Wall Street? daddy help!

    I'm hopeful some day soon the deserving will get a fair shake.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  37. Kim in NY

    I think he can be president w/o computer skills. I think we have had presidents before with no computer skills. Some of them did well, some not so well. What would be totally amazing is if he could construct a complete, grammatically correct sentence w/o spell/grammar check, or balance a budget w/o excel. I think not having computer skills might be good. We need someone who can think for his/her self, not google an answer.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  38. Jim-

    at 71 a man should be able to RETIRE if not BEFORE.
    I've worked for 20 some years & guess what?
    I Didn't use a computer to mow lawns, I didn't use one to do Carpentry,
    I didn't use one as a Used car salesman, I didn't use a computer as a Museum Caretaker or to draw plans from years of Historical research.
    I do not have or use a cellphone, Ipod, Blackberry.I do not bank on line
    ( with only $10.00 in the account why bother?) I have never had nor will I ever have a credit card, I drive a 1974 pick up because 1. I'm not going to spend several thousand on a new car that you have to take to a rocket scientist to get fixed, plus get Smogged, plus the higher auto insurance.
    2. when the economy totally collapses I can easily go where you cannot in your new car & can very easily live off the land & with my camper shell I can live in the back of my truck if nessacary.
    I've survived for 28 years on a gross income of no more than $18,000.00 a year maximum & a minimum of $3500.00 a year. We have Viet Nam Vets that have been homeless for years & they have survived – John Mccain has enough money he doesn't need a computer.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  39. penny

    "This should be a sign that lets him know he is too old to be a president. All of the global world is laughing at him. Even the Taliban is laughing at him"!!!!

    July 15, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  40. Renee

    Roland: You are so out of touch! The President of the United States currently does not send email. Why should he? Most 70 plus year olds have computers to send email only not manage and take over their lives. They are out enjoying life.

    The President's job is to protect American from terrorism (internally and externally), work with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, monitor and make decisions on current or pending wars, authorize relief funds, work with foreign governments and provide a stable catalyst for growth and change.

    It sounds to me Roland like you need to head back to high school Civics or Government 101 at any university or then again maybe you skipped class on the day they were covering the role of the President.

    If you can't take the heat Roland, get out of the kitchen!

    July 15, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  41. Lisa

    While I don't think it's a qualification for the job of President I do believe it's something he should be aware of. Using a computer to check email is not hard for anyone. My mother uses the Internet and "the Google" all the time. I just think it shows he's a bit out of touch with young people and where our modern day country is. He's doesn't need to be an expert but he should have knowledge of one of the most important mediums we have.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  42. penny

    "This should be a sign to him, that he is too old to be a president. After all we are in a technology world. I wonder does he realize he is being laughed at by the Global World. Even the Taliban is laughing at him from the Middle East. !!!

    July 15, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  43. Fay, CA

    The 71-year-old senior senator from Arizona says he really doesn’t have a need to use a computer or a Blackberry, relying on staffers instead.

    Where were these staffers when McCain was all confused about the the differences between the Sunnis and Shiites? A quick Google or Wiki search might've saved them all a little embarrassment. McCain has now admitted to not understanding economics and that he can't use a computer–it certainly doesn't inspire much confidence about his abilities as a leader. I hope there will be a lot more focus on whatever else it is that McCain doesn't know when Obama's latest controversy loses steam.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  44. EJ (USA)

    lol Barbara

    July 15, 2008 at 3:40 pm |
  45. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Roland good point. Where in this country could you get a job without being able to work a computer? I think it’s surprising that as a senator McCain could get away with not using a computer.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  46. Barbara in Culver City, CA

    The 71-year-old senior senator from Arizona says he really doesn’t have a need to use a computer or a Blackberry, relying on staffers instead.

    Sounds elitist to me.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  47. GAIL Centre,Al;

    Roland, When MCcain is president , he can have everyone else send his EMAIL and by the way, he's not looking for a regular JOB.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  48. John Arnold

    New techno no knowlegey like this one, will bring us to the 19th centry where we belong. I know are econmy and tech no knowldy better then anyone. Can you imagine one day where we wont have to be switched by an operator, and no phone cables! Good times are ahead!!!

    July 15, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  49. Cindy

    A lot of people his age, in fact most of them know absolutely nothing about computers, the net, or Blackberries. So why are you giving McCain such a hard time? When he is the president he can get all of his info from his aides and their reports. It's not such a big deal as you all are trying to make it out to be.

    And BTW he would be retired now. So he wouldn't be out trying to get a job even if he wasn't a senator.

    PLEASE go back to what really matters...the issues! And stay off of this trivial junk!


    July 15, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  50. Kathy S

    Best news is that as a government employee, you won't have to worry about him cruising the internet all day – while getting paid. And no one will have to monitor the internet sites that he doesn't visit.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
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