More Debates About the Debate: Did Kerry/Bush Bring Notes? The Bush Earpiece Theory

This is totally inside-baseball stuff, but what the hey - this is a good deal less serious than arguing Iraq one more time, which I’m totally not in the mood for today. :slight_smile:

1) The ‘notes’ debate:

The debate rules allowed neither candidate to bring in anything with them - no paper, no pen, nothing besides the clothes they were wearing. (Pens and blank paper were at their respective lecterns.)

Drudge has raised a claim going around the right wing of the blogsphere that Kerry brought in a page of notes, which he allegedly took out of his jacket and set on the lectern as he took his position there.

Here’s a video, courtesy of the conservative site

The weird thing is, when you follow their instructions (right click: zoom–>full screen), it sure looks as if Bush is pulling a piece of paper out of his jacket, and putting it on his podium. While Kerry looks like he’s reaching for a pen. (Scofflaw!)

Thanks to Digby for the tip.

2) The earpiece theory:

You know how, when interrupted, Bush peremptorily says, “Let me finish.” One of the odd things that cropped up in Thursday’s debate was that Bush suddenly said that, out of nowhere, in the middle of his response to a question. (The Boston Globe has the full video on its site; it’s in the opening seconds of Part 5, which I’ve linked directly to.) He’s got plenty of time left, nobody’s interrupting, but as he’s starting to say something, he cuts himself off with a wave of the hand and “let me finish.” Most peculiar, mama.

Some people speculated that he was being fed the answers via earpiece during his prime-time press conference last April or May, because of the pauses in his speech, and because he was wearing something then that looked like an earphone. This time, if he was wearing an earphone, it was very well hidden, that’s for sure. But there was an odd T-shaped bulge under the back of his jacket that makes one wonder.

Anyhow, the debate is, did either candidate have extra help, be it notes, an audio feed, or what? And if so, did it make a difference?

My position is that any help Bush may or may not have gotten clearly didn’t help him much; if I were on the Kerry team, I sure wouldn’t bother to call Bush on it. And between Kerry’s having shown in the past that he doesn’t need notes, and my view of the video not showing him pulling anything out that looks like a piece of paper, I’m not inclined to believe that silly BS.

Another debate worth considering is, why not let the candidates bring in notes on paper? I think it would help both candidates (and raise the level of the debate) to be able to bring in a piece of paper with some facts and talking points already jotted down on it. Or a whole pile of papers, if they wanted - and if they spent half their allotted time rummaging through notes in order to find the piece of paper they needed, that would probably hurt them more than help, in voters’ perceptions.

Regarding Bush, that would be a pretty huge gamble to take - if he were caught, how much credibility would he lose?

That alone makes me think he didn’t have an electronic device.

Besides, if you think the oddest words our of his mouth were where he interrupted himself with “Let me finish,” then you and I have a very different view of the debate.

That photo looks like his jacket was just hanging strangely momentarily.

Let’s say it is true that Bush is getting help via an earpiece.

Could Kerry’s team locate the frequency he’s using, and at a critical time:

Jam it so that W is compelled to answer on his own, and/or

While Bush is embarking on a complex topic and the camera is close-up on him, the Kerry guys transmit a loud, high-pitched, eardrum-piercing squeal to the earpiece, which forces Bush to reflexively yank it from his ear.

All kinds of mischief is possible.

Plus, if Bush were being fed answers/info, he was doing a crappy job of disseminating it.

Or, the person in charge of feeding him info was an inarticulate goon.

I could be wrong, but I thought the “no notes” thing was to prevent someone from pulling a Ross Perot and brandishing a chart to the home viewers. Most of the rules have a “no funny business, eh?” feeling to them.


Oh, I hope SNL does something with this! Both theories! :smiley:

Just when you think the campaign can’t get any more ridiculous…

  1. You say Kerry took notes out of his pocket? You say you have a video? Looks to me like he’s taking an indistinct blur out of his pocket; how would you like to prove that those are illegal notes?

  2. Bush said “Now let me finish.” And this proves that he was using an earpiece … how? There are any number of explanations. Maybe he thought he saw somebody else preparing to start speaking, and he didn’t want them to interrupt.

Sheesh, are both sides really this desperate?

Dan Rather was years ahead of his time.

Only it’s not momentary. Watch the video and you can see it pretty clearly. Frankly, I thought it might have been more of a “Don’t slouch” device that failed to work. The “let me finish” conspiracy is a pretty good one.

Who was he talking to?

Well. It could have been that he was talking to the lights that were in front of Lehrer that indicated how much time he had. The “Let me finish” may have been a request for an extension. I don’t have time to look, but I suspect he received an extension.

If someone is bored and has a stopwatch…

I seem to recall that the “Let me finish” moment came after one of his deer-in-the-headlights pauses; I just assumed that Lehrer had drawn a breath as if he was getting ready to ask for Kerry’s response.

Whether Cheney was crouching under the podium whispering responses to Bush remains to be determined.


I just looked for the “Let me finish.” It looks like that was directed at Jim Lehrer, who perhaps was about to interrupt.

I’m no expert, but I suspect the bulge in Bush’s back is part of the body armor I’m sure he was wearing. While the web does not have a bunch of pictures of the backside of body armor, I found a few Navy seals body armor images that showed a loop at the back. I presume for hanging up.

Just a guess.

I watched the video, and it’s impossible to tell what it is Kerry took out of his pocket, even zoomed to full screen. He was obviously scribbling notes while Bush was talking, since the camera showed him writing several times, and despite what I think of the man, I don’t think he’s the type to deface a podium. The thing he took out of his pocket was probably sheets of blank paper/blank notecards or a small notepad with a light colored cover that he’d been taking his notes on.

As for " Let me finish," Bush was running out of time.

If either of them was getting outside help/using notes, they made poor use of them.

This makes me remember the joke about a politician whose speechwriter hates him.

He is finishing a very important speech that the politician will deliver before the US Congress.

The speechwriter decides to resign. He hands the speech to the politician, walks out to lunch, and mails his resignation in. (So the politician doesn’t know he’s resigned).

The politician takes the speech, gets into his limo, and arrives at the capitol. He goes before Congress, and begins his speech. Everyone is paying rapt attention. The politician thunders, “I have devised a 10-Point Plan to address this, which I will now describe!”

He turns the page.

In big letters: OK, fathead, now you’re on your own.

You may have noticed late in the debate that at one point Bush demanded extra time for rebuttal, then, when the demand was granted, stood there or about ten seconds with a blank look on his face before giging a somewhat incoherent answer. Here’s the reason: actually, Bush DID in fact have an earpiece, through which he was being fed answers by a comely female aide, whom various blogs have identified as an intern named Jill Masterson.

As it happens, however, a British intelligence operative, Bond, I think the name was, James Bond, managed to discover Bush’s nefarious cheat and was able to,er, distract Ms. Masterson long enough for Bush to lose the debate. The incident in question was the point at which Bush suddenly realized he’d lost the feed.

Apparently, over the weekend a woman of Ms. Masterson’s description turned up dead in a Miami Beach hotel. Oddly, her body was entirely covered in gold paint.

Be aware this is all just stuff I’ve overheard; I may have one or two facts slightly wrong.

Well, I thought he seemed a bit off his feed the other night!

I think Bush is too arrogant to think he needs any help. Nonetheless, I bet that his minions could come up with an undetectable earpiece. If only the Dems could get that frequency and put the right words in his ear. I’m taken back to the old Mary Tyler Moore show where Murray is helping Ted with his wedding vows. I can just hear Bush saying “And I promise never…to let the voters be sorry…that they voted…for such a cluck.”

Our “side” (Kerry) isn’t desperate at all. They were just some fun thoughts bounced around on a few message boards. If anyone seriously believed that Bush had an earpiece or notes, there would be no reason to complain, since they obviously didn’t do Bush any good. Kerry won the debate up one side and down the other. It’s their side, via Drudge, who brought up the “Kerry cheats” :rolleyes: thing to try and lessen their man’s obvious embarrassment. Our side’s passing theory is that if it sticks (and you never know, I mean, who knew the Swift Boat Liars for Bush would be taken seriously by anybody), it could be an excuse for Bush to pull out of one or both of the next debates. It could happen. Weirder things have happened. It’s just a thought.

Your scorn is completely unnecessary.

I was quite surprised how your post turned out. All I could think of was Monica.:smiley:

I think i just have to say Oh for Ogs sake. Honestly even if he had notes what on earth could it have helped, or hurt. Short of having the list of questions that were going to be asked what does it matter.

In terms of President Bush having an ear piece, if it is true he needs to fire some people, because the answers they gave didn’t help. It seems appropriate for his presidency anyway.