While no presidential campaign is innocent when it comes to trading jabs, the recent Obama ad (watch it above) that targeted John McCain's inability to use a computer set a new low for standards and political sportsmanship. In the ad, the Obama campaign painted McCain as "out of touch" and unable to operate computer technology.
In formulating the ad, the Obama campaign thought it would be clever to tie together outdated imagery (a picture of McCain from the 1980s with large glasses and an out-of-style suite, a disco ball and other such images) with accompanying words about the economy, tax cuts and other Republican positions on important economic issues. In the end, the overarching goal was to tie McCain to Bush, thus showing that McCain's policies and world view do not jive with contemporary realities. But, the method of reaching this conclusion and the words used to do so are unsetting and unbelievably insensitive:
"He admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail, still doesn't understand the economy, and favors two hundred billion in new tax cuts for corporations, but almost nothing for the middle class..."
Why would a legitimate presidential candidate authorize an advertisement that makes fun of one's literal disability? McCain's physical inability to use a computer has been published in the past. The Obama campaign must have assumed that the American people would be too inept to know that McCain's past war injuries prevent him from regularly using computers. Or, the campaign was simply so desperate to regain a lead in the polls that it sunk to such subhuman levels.
John McCain cannot lift his arms high enough to comb his own hair, let alone sit at a computer desk and endure the unbelievable pains it would take for him to string together a few typed sentences. Thus, making fun of this makes Obama a political playground bully -- a title both candidates pledged they wouldn't hold during this presidential campaign. Sure, both campaigns have told half-truths and distortions in their political advertisements, but this targeting of a well-known disability is disheartening and wrong-headed on all counts.
And while I am no fan of Joe Biden, his statements on the matter are quite intriguing. Even Biden believes that the computer ad went way too far. When asked about the matter in an interview with Katie Couric he said the following:
At least there's someone in the Obama camp who has the integrity to speak the truth. Forget worrying about the "teaching sex ed to kindergartners" issue; Obama seems to have a "let's make fun of those who are disabled or less fortunate" mantra brewing. Anything to win the presidency, I suppose.