Notoriously grumpy tech pundit John Dvorak has projected his grumpiness onto the U.S. presidential election and the effect that he thinks it will have on the tech industry. In a recent MarketWatch column, Blame Washington that tech will remain flat, Dvorak said that he didn't think any of the three presidential candidates still in the running — John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton — have much knowledge about tech, and that he doubts any of them will provide much assistance for the technology industry in the coming years.
Dvorak's low opinion of U.S. presidential candidates
Here are some of the highlight from Dvorak's article:
- "None of the three leading candidates is known for tech expertise or appreciation."
- "To be honest, I cannot see any of the three ... setting a clock without help from a 12-year-old. This does not bode well for technology, a sector that in other countries gets a lot of government support and attention."
- "Unfortunately, understanding technology and its importance is like good taste. If you don't have good taste, you don't miss it."
- "Tech's only hope in the next decade will be relentless good performance, because it shouldn't expect to get much help or attention from these folks. Unless the winner of the race at least gives a nod to tech, it's going to be miserable, you watch."
Photo credit: John McCain 2008 Campaign
McCullagh sees a favorite among geeks
News.com Chief Political Correspondent Declan McCullagh has a different perspective. He recently did a podcast in which he discussed "What's behind the geek passion for Barack Obama."
During that interview, McCullah said:
"Obama is the candidate of the Internet for the Democrats, much like Ron Paul was, at least for a while last year, for the Republicans.
"Hillary has spent the last seven years trying to shore up her support from technology companies. This is back when Obama was a nobody — a state senator with ambitions — and she was already meeting with folks like Steve Ballmer, speaking to all of these corporate high-tech boards, introducing broadband bills, and so on."
"Obama, when he was a relatively young senator, was out there tangling with bloggers... He joined them in debate in a way that Hillary Clinton had not and has not."
"[Obama] was using the Internet personally... I found some newspaper articles from circa 1999 when he was complaining that his ISP was over-charging him."
McCullagh also published an article "In tech support, Obama bests Clinton," in which he highlighted some of Clinton's tech credentials:
"She introduced five different broadband bills. She showed up at roundtables with chief executives like Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, Adobe Systems' Bruce Chizen, and Symantec's John Thompson. She spoke at a board meeting of the Information Technology Industry Council, whose members include Apple, Cisco Systems, Dell, eBay, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft. She talked up nanotech, lower taxes on stock options, and better e-voting security. She won a coveted endorsement from prominent venture capitalist John Doerr, and, in fact, won more votes in Silicon Valley during last month's California primary."
Nevertheless, McCullagh concludes that Obama is the candidate who has been embraced by the technology industry, and he cites several reasons:
- Obama's popular convention speech in 2004, which led him to meet Warren Buffett, who then introduced him to Bill Gates
- Obama was one of only four senators (Clinton wasn't among them), who had a blog back in August 2005; Obama said that he updated it himself
- An endorsement from Stanford law professor Larry Lessig
- Clever use of wikis and the my.barackobama.com social-networking site
Photo credit: Declan McCullagh/CNET News.com
For more on the technology issues in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, see:
- CNET News.com — Election 2008: Campaign coverage for the digerati
- Delcan McCullagh — POLITECH: Politics & Technology
- Technology Voters' Guide: Hillary Clinton
- Technology Voters' Guide: John McCain
- Technology Voters' Guide: Barack Obama
Which, if any, of these candidates do you think you could help the tech industry? Join the discussion.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.