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Internet Non-Savant McCain Now Opposes Broadband Expansion

January 25, 2009

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican John McCain famously acknowledged "I'm an illiterate" when asked about his use of personal computers and the Internet. Then as now, McCain's ignorance is reflected in his public policy. After laughably extolling online auction giant eBay as the cure for what ails the American economy, John McCain now opposes federal funding for the expansion of broadband access he once supported.
During a campaign last spring, McCain lauded high-speed, broadband access as critical to the economic development of rural America. In the same Inez, Kentucky speech in which he lauded adviser Meg Whitman's former company eBay as the solution to poverty and recession, McCain insisted Washington had a decisive role to play in bringing broadband access to all:

"In particular, through access to high-speed Internet services that facilitate interstate commerce, drive innovation, and promote educational achievements, there is the potential to change lives. These kinds of transformations of our way of life require the infrastructure of modern communication, and government has a role to play in assuring every community in America can develop that infrastructure. This country has a long history of ensuring that rural areas have the same access to communication technology as other places."

That role, it now appears, was contingent on John McCain actually winning the election. With Barack Obama now in the Oval Office, McCain announced his aim to block the President's proposed $825 billion economic recovery package in its current form. Chief among the expenditures raising his ire is - you guessed it - broadband expansion:

"Some of the stimulus in this package is excellent; some of it, frankly, has nothing to do - some of the projects and others that you just mentioned, $6 billion for broadband and internet access. That will take years."

Senator McCain, to his credit, has generally taken the high road since his defeat at the hands of Barack Obama. (Prior to that, McCain the campaigner was another matter.) While predictably opposing Obama's stimulus package ("as it stands now I can't vote for it") and insisting the Bush tax cuts he once voted against be made permanent, McCain vocally supported Hillary Clinton's nomination for Secretary of State and has urged a conciliatory towards the man Americans selected as their 44th president. But when push comes to shove, McCain is backing off his commitment to a vital investment in economic infrastructure in an area where the United States lags badly among industrialized nations.
Back in June, McCain campaign aide Mark Soohoo tried to reassure American voters about his boss' personal technology deficit by proclaiming "John McCain is aware of the Internet" and "you don't actually have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country."
With Barack Obama in the White House, John McCain has apparently forgotten.

5 comments on “Internet Non-Savant McCain Now Opposes Broadband Expansion”

  1. Regardless of McCain's stand then and now, I'm totally against federal funding for broadband expansion. High-speed internet is pretty frivolous compared to other, more pressing needs the government should be focusing on like social welfare programs, education or even reforming the health care system.

  2. I have to disagree with you, Vicki. Broadband expansion is part of our nation's infrastructure now, integral to commerce, entertainment, business, and even education. Improving our schools is more than a bricks-and-mortar proposition.

  3. High speed internet could help rural schools gain access to resources and even classes that would be missed otherwise.

  4. Good analysis. Of course, McCain often didn't know much about his own policies, most of which were terrible. His actual policy stances are often arbitrary and/or mostly political.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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