Ben Langhinrichs

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Genii Weblog

Newsflash: McCain invented the Blackberry!

Tue 16 Sep 2008, 12:05 PM



by Ben Langhinrichs
Obviously, the silly season is fully upon us:
He [McCain senior domestic policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin] added, though, that McCain — who has struggled to stress his economic credentials this cycle — did have experience dealing with the economy, pointing to his time on the Senate Commerce Committee. Pressed to provide an example of what McCain had accomplished on that committee, Holtz-Eakin said the senator did not have jurisdiction over financial markets — then held up his Blackberry, telling reporters: “He did this.”

“Telecommunications of the United States, the premiere innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce Committee. So you’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create,” said Holtz-Eakin. “And that’s what he did. He both regulated and de-regulated the industry.”
Now, before any Republican readers breathlessly point it out, I'll readily admit that Senator McCain did not make this statement, it was made by his "senior domestic policy adviser", but it is entertaining given that RIM is obviously not even an American company.  At the very least, I'm sure that Al Gore will enjoy the irony.

Update:  Sure enough, the McCain campaign, which must have had similar visions of Al Gore, quickly repudiated the claim:
Matt McDonald, a top McCain aide, said the candidate "laughed" upon hearing Holtz-Eakin's claim.

"He would not claim to be the inventor of anything, much less the BlackBerry," McDonald said. "This was obviously a boneheaded joke by a staffer," McDonald said. 
Which shows, among other things, why Senator McCain may be wiser than Al Gore, who kept trying to "explain" what he meant as opposed to just dismissing it as a joke from the beginning.

Of course, it is still a bit unclear why Senator McCain's advisor would be cracking jokes at such a serious matter.  I think the McCain people meant something closer to "a boneheaded comment" than "a boneheaded joke", but we can give him the benefit of the doubt.  The bigger question remains, what does Senator McCain plan to do for the economy?  Same question for Senator Obama.  We, the people, need more serious answers and not flippant and idiotic remarks.

Copyright © 2008 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:


729.1. Jerry Carter
(09/16/2008 09:57 AM)

Ben - you're grasping. Giving the man credit for telecom friendly legislation is far from claiming credit for creating a device. I don't know if you're trying to be satirical or if you're really just that strained to find a valid criticism?


729.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(09/16/2008 10:48 AM)

@Jerry - It is at least as valid as the mockery of Al Gore about "inventing the internet". The funny part, of course, is not the Canadian part, but that Senator McCain has steadfastly opposed almost every bill that has led to the explosion in the telecom market. And as I said, I don't blame Senator McCain, as he wouldn't say something this absurd. This is just one of those "silly season" political comments by an advisor who probably though "Aha, I can tackle two different weak points at once", and instead focused attention on both weak points. Both Senator Obama and Senator McCain have had advisors do this sort of "reaching", but it is entertaining when it is in an area I actually know something about. Most of the time I can just guess at how they are reaching; this time I can see it directly.


729.3. Craig Wiseman
(09/16/2008 02:18 PM)

As soon as I saw this blurb in Google news, I thought, "I know who's going to have a post on it."

You didn't disappoint. Actually, I guess I should say you DID disappoint.

A key difference here is that Al Gore actually said he took "the initiative in creating the internet" ( http://www.snopes.com/quotes/internet.asp )

thereby turning what should have been a strong point for him into a negative.


729.4. Ben Langhinrichs
(09/16/2008 02:59 PM)

@Craig - I agree that Al Gore managed to total mangle what should have been a strong point and make it into a liability. He actually managed to do that quite a bit back when he was more of a politician and less of an advocate. The similarity is that this advisor took what is one of Senator McCain's actual strengths in economics, his experience on the Commerce Committee, and turned it into a negative. Fortunately, it was only an advisor, so this will go down as a bit of trivia at most, but the irony is still there.

In both cases, by overreaching, a positive is turned into a negative. That is common in the "silly season", and my entire point in making the post.


729.5. Craig
(09/16/2008 06:40 PM)

Indeed. I think we, by the nature of our positions, will find the 'best' silly season examples come from the 'other' side.