Obama and the iPhone: No common ground?

The president, a renowned BlackBerry user, seems not to be au fait with Apple's iPhone. Why might this be?

JamesLee490/YouTube Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Agreement in politics seems about as common as subtlety in Charlie Sheen.

The media find glee in reporting the latest skirmish, the latest name-calling, the latest tit-for-tit. Who can be surprised, then, that recent reports suggest the President and the iPhone simply don't see eye to ear?

As the Washington Times dialed it in, the President was in Port St. Lucie, Fla. a couple of days ago and decided to call some campaign workers.

Marvin Nicholson, his trip director, offered up his own iPhone for the task, one that became a little more arduous than some might have imagined.

Words like "befuddled" flowed from the keyboards of reporters who were present. It seemed as if the President couldn't find his way around the iPhone's keys.

"Oh, I got to dial it in. Hold on, hold on. I can do this. See, I still have a BlackBerry," the President reportedly explained.

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It is, indeed, well known that cigarettes and BlackBerrys have been central to Barack Obama's life.

Yet why might the iPhone have caused him such pause? Naturally, I have some very rough theories.

The BlackBerry is a phone designed by a Canadian civil servant. It is policy-wonky. It celebrates its own sheer detailed dullness, like a smug CFO sitting on an earnings call, his soiled, tasseled loafers perched on his desk.

It forces you to peer through a small window, so that you screw your eyes up in concentration, as if you were reading a spreadsheet or a badly spelled postcard from an Uzbek rebel.

The iPhone, on the other hand, was designed by those who believed that the world can be happy-clappy and that flowers truly can fall from the sky and straight into your hair.

These people believed that you merely needed to rub Buddha's belly and chew on alfalfa in order to enjoy a happy life.

So their phone celebrates rainbows of color and buttons that a 3-year-old can bring to life.

The President is a man who bathes in complexity. He's a lawyer, for goodness sake.

To be suddenly confronted with a phone that has the face of Fisher-Price and the heart of the Fisher King is almost like being confronted by a smiling Republican senator who is keen to agree with him.

What, indeed, is he supposed to do with that?

In Port St. Lucie, the President was handed a second iPhone and finally had some success.

But perhaps it's true that for either candidate in the coming election, a grasp of the colors and language of the Fisher-Price, Fisher King world wouldn't go amiss.

 

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