Our So-Called “National Security” Candidate

It’s been widely reported that John McCain has exhibited no interest in technology. The Republicans have attempted to characterize him as a lovable latter-day Luddite whose failure even to embrace e-mail is somehow a component of his cute and curmudgeonly personality.

If McCain were a plumbing and heating contractor or even a senior partner in a small-town law firm, this characterization might sit just fine. It might even be charming.

But John McCain is running for President of the United States. His lack of knowledge of and interest in technology is not cute. It’s dangerous.

Let’s face facts. The likelihood that another set of terrorists will fly planes into buildings has been limited by international efforts in the past seven years to tighten security. It’s not impossible, but it’s considerably less likely.

So what else remains vulnerable? Our ports? Our infrastructure? Yes, of course. But what would give terrorists the most bang for the buck? Our technology.

It’s hard to imagine the kind of impact that bringing down the internet or our other telecommunications assets would have. Our businesses all rely on it, our communications depend on it, and it’s one of the primary ways people get their information.

So do we really want to put the oversight of anti-terrorism efforts in the hands of someone who doesn’t know an IP address from a Zip code? Sorry. That’s not cute or quaint. It’s a huge security risk.

And, while we’re on the subject, what about our economy? Our banking industry wouldn’t exist without technology. The case can easily be made that many of our current problems have been exacerbated by the speed at which transactions can be made and the complexity that can be managed by computers. Again, how can we put a technophobe in a position of oversight of something as critical as our economy? And, again, a faltering economy leaves us in a much more vulnerable security position in the world.

What it boils down to is this: To have a clear understanding of how the world works, you kind of have to have at least some understanding of how technology works.

These are not issues that can be overlooked, as McCain seems to want us to overlook them, because he’s hailed as a war hero. You can’t play that card in this game, John.