A little over two weeks ago, I posted about McCain’s use of the Internet — or lack thereof.  Here’s a reminder of remarks McCain made in a New York Times interview.

Q: But do you go on line for yourself?

Mr. McCain: They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need – including going to my daughter’s blog first, before anything else.

Q: Do you use a blackberry or email?

Mr. McCain: No

We now have more information regarding McCain’s training program.  He’s now moved, albeit imperceptibly, forward in his quest toward mastering the internet and becoming, uh, modern. These are remarks he made to the San Francisco Chronicle.

GOP presidential candidate John McCain, fundraising in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the nation’s technology capitals, acknowledged Monday that he isn’t a “tech freak” or entirely comfortable with the Internet, BlackBerrys or e-mail. But he strongly disputed criticism that he is “out of the loop” as unfair.

As former head of the U.S. Senate Commerce committee, McCain said, he has been a driving force to oversee legislation that helped the Internet flourish – even as he is still learning to get comfortable with it himself.

“Am I a tech freak? No,” he said in an interview Monday with The Chronicle. “And I don’t like to text message because I’d rather call somebody on the telephone.”

“I do understand the importance of the computer. I understand the importance of the blogs,” he said.

McCain said he is well aware that technology “does drive the news. It is changing the shape of the news. … It’s changing the information age, and I’ve got to stay up with it.”

He added, “But I am forcing myself … let me put it this way, I am using the computer more and more every day.”

Well, that’s great.  So anyone that happens to be very comfortable with email is a “tech freak.”  And anyone that likes to text message is antisocial.  At this rate, John McCain just might be ready to use a PC when everyone leaves for Mars.

Anyway — why is this a big deal?  Two reasons.

1.) The Internet is our technological infrastructure.  And as an American, I want someone in the White House who is comfortable using this vital resource that will continue to be even more in our lives with each passing day and year.  If we have someone leading us who is merely “staying up with it,” what are the odds that person is going to put the Internet and technological development as a budget priority, no matter what they say in interviews with newspapers in the middle of a political campaign?  Not good.  I want someone that doesn’t have to “force [himself]” to use the Internet, someone that understands its inherent value.

2.) Check this out:

When our next president takes over, as you can see, he will be in charge of leading one of the most civically engaged generations in this country’s history whose engagement is mostly due to the Internet.  Whether people like it or not, the Internet is a central piece of this new style of activism.  Georgia10 at Daily Kos wrote a diary a few weeks back amid the controversy about whether or not this generation should be using the Internet as a form of activism.  Georgia10 explained very patiently that the Internet and civic engagement for Millennials are linked — they are one and the same.  She used a study released by the Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet to illustrate this link.

According to some observers, the Internet may have considerable potential to reach and engage opinion leaders who influence the thinking and behavior of others. According to the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, “Online Political Citizens” (OPCs) are “seven times more likely than average citizens to serve as opinion leaders among their friends, relatives and colleagues…Normally, 10% of Americans qualify as Influentials. Our study found that 69% of Online Political Citizens are Influentials.

By electing a president who has no clue about what the Internet is, what its potential is, and its impact thus far on heightened civic engagement among the youngest Americans, we are actually undercutting one of the lone reasons for optimism in this country.  We’re still mired in the Iraq War, we’re ignoring a War on Terror, and the economy is still slumping (about which McCain knows little as well).

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