OFF THE GRID

The President Wants You to Know He’s Too Dopey to Use Twitter

Nov 16, 09 | 8:01 AM   byMichael Wolff
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“First of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter. I notice that young people—you know, they’re very busy with all these electronics. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone. But I’m a big believer in technology, and I’m a big believer in openness when it comes to the flow of information.”

That’s what the president said upon his arrival today in Shanghai as he took questions from Chinese university students, one of whom asked: “Should we be able to use Twitter freely?”

So what’s his point? I mean it certainly doesn’t sound like he’s a big believer in technology. Worse, he’s clearly dissembling about his technological acumen—even acumen of the most minor kind.

We know the guy is constantly on his Blackberry, that he was during the campaign, and that special provisions were made for him so that he could continue to use his smartphone after his election. So what is this “my thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone?” We know he’s an obsessive emailer from his phone. So, huh?

Maybe it’s a diplomatic feint. While he was theoretically sending a tough message to the Chinese authorities—“the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes”—maybe at the same time he was trying to sound all aw shucks. Nothing to be afraid of here. Sure, there’s a lot of authoritarian-leveling technology, but I can’t use it! Hee hee.

But as likely it’s a message he’s sending back home. While there’s a certain kind of man—a geeky man boy—who is technologically adept, real men aren’t. Executives barely read their own email. Real men, boss men, deal face to face. Even though it seems that everybody uses Twitter, that, in fact, the fastest-growing group of people using Twitter is over 40, true-blue-earnest-overweight-NASCAR-or-some-such American dads don’t tweet.

Is that it?

It certainly sounds like the president is processing some demographic information here. He’s sidling up to his idea of a middle-of-the road voter. Maybe independents don’t Twitter. If you want a health bill, it sounds like somebody’s told him, you can’t be cool.

Cool? You can, apparently, barely be sentient.

“My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone. But I’m a big believer in technology…” Jesus Christ.

What is this man turning into?

The only thing that makes sense is that he believes he’s out of touch, that he’s lost it. He’s come to believe that Americans don’t want what they elected. That he’s got to figure out how to fit some other mold.

He’s got to dumb it down. I’m Barack Obama, regular guy.

Who thinks that’s going to work?

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewserColumns.
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