“John Mccain is aware of the Internet” – McCain campaign Internet strategist Mark Soohoo.

Not if you have to say it. Not to mention, “is aware” is the way you describe someone in a coma. “Suzie is aware of her surroundings.”

John McCain’s Internet guy for his campaign was at a conference in NYC this week, and he was asked how well John McCain understands the Internet. This was his response:

Pressed again on McCain’s tech savvy, he defends his candidate.

“You don’t actually have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country,” he says.

“You actually do,” former Edwards blogger Tracy Russo responds, suggesting he try to explain Twitter to his grandmother and then ask her how that applies to governing.

“John McCain is aware of the Internet,” says Soohoo. “This is a man who has a very long history of understanding on a range of issues.”

He’s aware of the Internet? But he doesn’t actually know how to use a computer. My mom and dad know how to use a computer, and they’re older than McCain. This is what we’ve been noting for a while: John McCain isn’t just 72 (almost), he’s a very old 72.

And another thing. What is this with calling McCain “John McCain”? I worked on the Hill in the early 90s, and I noticed how in some offices they referred to the boss by his or her full name. Here’s what I mean. Say you work for John McCain and someone asks you, “Is Senator McCain aware of the Internet?” Your responses might be:

1. He is aware of the Internet.
2. Senator McCain is aware of the Internet.
3. The Senator is aware of the Internet.
4. McCain is aware of the Internet.
5. My boss is aware of the Internet.

The answer normal people don’t give is: John McCain is aware of the Internet.

Normal people don’t refer to their boss by his full name in this context. It’s forced, and it’s not a normal English construction. Try it yourself. It’s a rather nuanced lesson in language, but have someone ask you a question about your boss, by name, and practice the various answers. It’s not normal, or comfortable, to use your boss’ full name when answering the question. It’s forced – and it’s oddly regal, akin to the royal “we” or to people who refer to themselves by their own full name (like me writing “let me tell you, John Aravosis doesn’t like what this staffer said”). I noticed twenty years ago that this is something some people do on the Hill. It’s a sign, I’ve always thought, of a bit of a cult of personality in that particular office, and it’s usually because it’s something the boss himself cultivates.

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