John McCain, inventor of the BlackBerry

Al Gore never claimed to have “invented the internet.” That was a lie, invented by Karl Rove and repeated by a credulous press corps with a personal disdain for Gore. What Newt Gingrich (!) claimed on Gore’s behalf was having figured out the importance of computer-to-computer communications very early and pushing successfully for the legislative actions that transformed the ARPAnet into the internet. Still, that charge helped cost Gore the election.

So if you’re Rick Davis, you really, really, really didn’t want to see this lead on an AP story:

Move over, Al Gore. You may lay claim to the Internet, but John McCain helped create the BlackBerry.

I don’t know whether McCain can, in fact, claim any credit for changes in telecoms policy that facilitated the development of handhelds. (If so, he can also take the blame for the fact that we’re a generation behind our competitors in both cellphone technology and broadband-to-the-home.) And I doubt that this will hurt McCain as much as the internet claim hurt Gore. But it doesn’t help. More important, it shows that the press corps &#8212 even AP &#8212 is in no mood to cut McCain any slack.

The Obama campaign’s response was pitch-perfect:

If John McCain hadn’t said that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” on the day of one of our nation’s worst financial crises, the claim that he invented the BlackBerry would have been the most preposterous thing said all week.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com