From my former colleague Tom Crowe, who did not post this as part of his great writing at CatholicVote.org.
I just got back from a much-too-short vacation, during which I turned off my BlackBerry, dropped it into a drawer, and didn’t even look at it for three days. Speaking of BlackBerries, the internet is all abuzz with headlines like this:
“Campaign: John McCain Invented the BlackBerry”
My first thought: “#$%& you, John McCain, for making me reachable at 3:00 a.m.” Just because Hillary Clinton is ready to take the call doesn’t mean I’m ready to take the email.
Then I read the actual posts by Wired’s normally-dependable Sarah Lai Stirland and Politico’s Jonathan Martin about this seemingly ridiculous claim. Both quote as their source McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who waved his BlackBerry in the air as evidence of developments in telecommunications over the past 15 years.
That’s not my spin. That’s Martin’s account:
“Asked what work John McCain did as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee that helped him understand the financial markets, the candidate’s top economic adviser wielded visual evidence: his BlackBerry. ‘He did this,’ Douglas Holtz-Eakin told reporters this morning, holding up his BlackBerry. ‘Telecommunications of the United States is a premier innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce Committee. So you’re looking at the miracle John McCain helped create and that’s what he did.'”
Holtz-Eakin is taking too much credit for his boss – after all, no Senate Committee can or should really take credit for the innovations that companies like Apple, Research In Motion, AT&T, and others have made through their private research and development. But can anyone actually read this as a claim – even a mistaken one – that John McCain invented the BlackBerry?
The folks who are making hay over this are looking to create a parallel with the storm around Al Gore’s much-ridiculed “inventing the internet” gaffe. Of course, the joke about Gore stems from a direct quote (“During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet”). Drawing similarities with a staffer waving a prop is a stretch to say the least.