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.
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.
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.