When it comes to the Internet, Republican presidential candidate John McCain recently said that he’s “an illiterate who has to rely on his wife for any assistance he can get.” In an era where the Internet is playing an ever greater role, does such an admission matter, and does it say anything important about the age gap between McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama?

This is not the first time a politician has come under fire for sweeping claims about the Internet. Recall, for instance, Al Gore’s comment that he “took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Everyone knows that DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) drove the creation of the Net, not the former vice president, but his comment made for many jokes on late-night shows.

McCain, of course, made quite the opposite assertion, but is he really the “illiterate” he mentioned or is something else going on? His campaign aides say he’s fully capable of browsing the Web and that he has a Mac and uses it several times a week. Senator McCain will get “hip points” for using a Mac; nevertheless, he clearly doesn’t think being Internet savvy is an important branding strategy. This may bother some, but many politically active technology entrepreneurs don’t seem to be upset.

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