Back in 1992, as many of you won't remember, when George Bush Papa was campaigning to be re-elected, he once stumbled into a supermarket and was astonished to see the cashier using some modern contraption that wasn't invented the previous time he'd been in a supermarket,many years earlier. The (Bill) Clinton campaign and much of the media had a field day at his expense, of course, talking about how he was out of touch with normal people. He then went onto lose the election for other reasons, and the whole story was rightfully relegated to a footnote; the only reason I remember it is that I'm very old, and also being a trained historian often use footnotes.
(Think what would have happened had he not failed, and had served until 1996: Bill wouldn't have replaced him - and George Bush Sonny wouldn't have been elected to avenge him in 2000, and on 9/11 someone else, perhaps a Democrat, would have been there... But I digress).
Eight years ago (some of you at least must remember that) George Sonny was elected, and we were told at the time that he sent off a final e-mail to his contacts regretting that he'd have to stop mailing. As president, there's some act against e-mails written in the Constitution, and there was the problem of spam floating around in the Oval Office, and so on. He'll be back, writing to his pals, on January 21, if he still has their old addresses...
So today the NYT tells us, unsurprisingly for those of us who are old enough to remember, that by January 20th Barack O is going to have to stop writing e-mails. Except that in his case, it's far worse, given the advent of the Blackberry. And given that he's such a wired chap, in touch with the generation that only reads things only on the internet, and all the other things that you've read about him in this regard. Come January 20th, the man will be relegated back into the Middle Ages. Why, it's just conceivable that in his campaign in 2012 he'll be confronted with some new gizmo we all can't live without, which he'll never have heard of. ("President Obama looks befuddled as a potential first-time voter communicates with his tooth-mail in Middle-Bend, Arkansas, earlier today. Can you imagine? How out of touch can a fellow be?")
Beyond the weak humor, there's also a real issue here. Presidents are supposed to make Big Decisions, and then explain them to the rest of us. That's what they're there for, and we cut out all the distractions that plague the rest of us, so that they'll make the Right Big Decisions. We also cut them off from human beings for security reasons, and this one will be cut off even more given the (reasonable) fear that there will be no lack of kooks raring to hit him. At some point, however, you've got to ask yourself how deep the guy's seclusion can be, and still expect him to make the right decisions for the rest of us, out here in the world living real lives.