DHE: No McCain, No BlackBerry


Hm . . . it seems Doug Holtz-Eakin thinks John McCain invented the BlackBerry:

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.”

I guess I only sort of feel that the media owes it to us to deliberately misconstrue this remark the way they deliberately misconstrued Al Gore’s talk about taking the lead on the legislation that led to the creation of the Internet. But on the other hand, there’s enough legitimate McCain material out there so who needs it.

Meanwhile, all such cracks aside, what on earth is Holtz-Eakin talking about here? I’m sure McCain’s work on the Commerce Committee has had impact on the course of our telecom-related gadgets, but he’s hardly been doing this stuff all alone, and the device in question was developed by a Canadian company so it’s hard to see how it hinged crucially on any particular aspect of US telecom policy. More to the point — how would John McCain’s putative expertise in telecom regulation help him understand the turmoil in the financial markets?

And even on the very narrow point at issue, perhaps Holtz-Eakin isn’t aware that McCain was voted against the 1996 Telecommunication Act. I think he was the only Republican to do so. It was some kind of crazy McCain stunt where there was a giant, complicated bill with tons of provisions that was, on the whole, a substantial improvement over the status quo but where the nature of the beast was that everyone had some complaints with the text. So McCain took the opportunity to point out some perceived flaws and cast a cranky “no” vote against a critical piece of bipartisan legislation.