Jonah Goldberg

One reason McCain is not versed in the mechanical details of sending e-mail and typing on a keyboard is that the North Vietnamese broke his fingers and shattered both of his arms. As Forbes, Slate and the Boston Globe reported in 2000, McCain's injuries make using a keyboard painfully laborious. He mostly relies on his wife and staff to show him e-mails and Web sites, though he says he's getting up to speed.

"It's extraordinary," Obama spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said, "that someone who wants to be our president and our commander in chief doesn't know how to send an e-mail." For the record, President Clinton sent exactly two e-mails while in office.

Besides, by this logic, Obama is even less qualified to be commander in chief because, unlike McCain, Obama has never fired a gun, flown a plane or led men during wartime.

And if the Obama campaign didn't intend to mock a disabled veteran, what does it say about his supposedly "cybersavvy" staffers that they don't know how to conduct a five-minute Google search?

But the most revealing aspect of the ad is its target audience Obama has a 20- to 30-point advantage over McCain among 18- to 29-year-olds. Indeed, his base (not counting black voters) is upscale college kids and new-economy young voters. They may think being able to send an e-mail is, like, totally crucial.

The only other constituency - other than the press - that will be jazzed by such an attack are the Web-symbiotes of the left-wing netroots, another demographic Obama has locked up.

But older Americans, working-class Americans, veterans and other voters Obama desperately needs probably won't care and might even take offense at Obama's condescension and insensitivity.

There are two explanations for the ad. One is that Obama released it to reassure his base that he's serious about attacking McCain, not to win over swing voters. That, or the campaign actually thinks it's an effective ad.

Either way, the lesson is the same: Obama doesn't know how to get outside his echo chamber. He talks about being bipartisan to hard-core liberals who like the words, but he rejects actual deviation from the liberal line. He talks about new ideas while repackaging old ones.

He is a candidate who has never had to sell himself to voters who weren't already sold. And it shows.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.