Was President Bush wearing a wire during the first debate?

The political blogs have been having a field day over the possibility that President Bush may have been wearing a wire of some sort during the first presidential debate allowing his aides to feed him answers to the questions he was being asked. In the age of TiVo the ability to immediately replay and examine live television and then save it to a hard disk for further examination later has led to a number of screen shots of the Presidents back during the debates making their way into the Blogosphere that do appear to show some sort of rectangular bulge under the President’s jacket. One such shot is over on the right that you can click on for a bigger version. The speculation picked up enough steam to prompt Dave Lindorff at Salon.com to write an article about it:

Oct. 8, 2004 |  Was President Bush literally channeling Karl Rove in his first debate with John Kerry? That’s the latest rumor flooding the Internet, unleashed last week in the wake of an image caught by a television camera during the Miami debate. The image shows a large solid object between Bush’s shoulder blades as he leans over the lectern and faces moderator Jim Lehrer.

The president is not known to wear a back brace, and it’s safe to say he wasn’t packing. So was the bulge under his well-tailored jacket a hidden receiver, picking up transmissions from someone offstage feeding the president answers through a hidden earpiece? Did the device explain why the normally ramrod-straight president seemed hunched over during much of the debate?

Bloggers are burning up their keyboards with speculation. Check out the president’s peculiar behavior during the debate, they say. On several occasions, the president simply stopped speaking for an uncomfortably long time and stared ahead with an odd expression on his face. Was he listening to someone helping him with his response to a question? Even weirder was the president’s strange outburst. In a peeved rejoinder to Kerry, he said, “As the politics change, his positions change. And that’s not how a commander in chief acts. I, I, uh—Let me finish—The intelligence I looked at was the same intelligence my opponent looked at.” It must be said that Bush pointed toward Lehrer as he declared “Let me finish.” The green warning light was lit, signaling he had 30 seconds to, well, finish.

Lindorff’s article points out that there’s no shortage of reasons why this idea isn’t as preposterous as it might sound ranging from the fact that one of the rules agreed upon for the debates by both teams was that no cameras would be placed behind the candidates (which Fox happily ignored) to a mysterious incident with a speech Bush gave at a D-day event in France *. On Monday Bush’s campaign team wasted no time trying to laugh off the rumors:

Bush aides deny Internet rumors he was wired – CNN.com

“It’s not true. It’s ridiculous,” Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

“Some people have been spending too many hours looking at left-wing conspiracy Web sites,” Stanzel said. “Did you hear the one about Elvis moderating the third debate?”

Campaign officials declined to discuss it further because they weren’t certain a bulge even existed and do not want to appear to take seriously what they consider a “wild accusation.”

Actually this is far from being a ridiculous idea as the technology to pull something like this off is quite common and used every day by all manner of people. The ear bud used in this kind of setup is small enough to fit down into the ear canal where it would stay out of sight and it’s not like this sort of thing hasn’t ever happened before. Back in 1986 James Randi exposed Faith-Healing Preacher Peter Popoff as using this same technique live on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Popoff’s so-called God given psychic abilities turned out to actually be a small radio receiver in his ear that allowed his wife to feed him previously collected information from backstage. Now consider how far this technology has probably advanced since 1986.

Considering how stunningly inept at speaking the President can be at times when he isn’t working from a memorized script it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it turned out he’s wired for most of his public appearances, let alone the debates. The real question is: Does it make a damned bit of difference either way? Sure, to folks like myself it’s another indication that this man can’t tie his own shoes without detailed instructions and the help of several aides, but we already know that anyway. It’s not like finding out he’s relying on a wire is going to make us think he’s unfit for the office he holds because we already think he’s unfit for the office he holds. The only people it might affect are the ones who haven’t made up their mind yet, but if all the other crap that’s come out so far—such as the report that there were never any WMDs to be found in Iraq—isn’t enough to get people to decide in favor of Kerry then I seriously doubt that finding out Bush has to have his debate answers dictated to him isn’t going to have any big impact either.

I haven’t been able to figure out why half the country seems so willing to blindly accept whatever bullshit excuses and justifications the Bush administration throws at them on a daily basis as though it were manna from Heaven other than they must be friggin’ idiots. I’ve said many times that I think most of my fellow Americans are morons and I fully admit that’s a pretty cynical viewpoint, but deep down inside I secretly want to believe that this isn’t really true. Yet every time I manage to start to convince myself that my cynicism is unjustified something happens to show me that not only is it justified, but the truth is actually much worse than my cynical side thinks it is. The fact that so many people in this country think Bush is the greatest thing since sliced bread these days is just one more victory for my cynical side.

*Video clip provided by Populist Politics.

23 thoughts on “Was President Bush wearing a wire during the first debate?

  1. grew up in the deep south. as my long time friends father used to say, i’ve been “Republican, DAMNIT” for most of my 31 years on earth.

    i can’t make that claim now. i won’t claim democrat, either. i know one thing: i’m sick of politics. these debates have been laffable, and i’ve really had it with both candidates.

    but i don’t trust Bush. i think for the entirety of his term i’ve been more than willing. i’ve remained open minded to what’s been said on both sides, and tried to give him the benefit of the doubt so much that i’m just damned out of benefit.

    all i have now is doubt.

    he’s not going to get my vote, and i’m not certain yet who is. but i’ve just got to wonder: are these two morons the best it gets? the most prosperous nation on the planet, and these two yahoos are the only thing we could drag up to lead us.

    very, very sad indeed.

  2. I don’t buy this conspiracy theory. As chimplike as Bush appears, he isn’t a complete idiot. The mere possibility of someone finding out that he had a planted earpiece is the reason no one would ever try it.
    This theory is in retaliation to the one that Kerry used a “cheat sheet” during the first debate, equally laughable.
    I hate when theories like this make the mainstream… they distract from people looking into real issues.

  3. well, Unsomnambulist, if these things distract the public from the ‘real issues’, then perhaps these theories are doing both candidates a favor. neither of them come clean on anything. neither of them take responsibility for so much as one decision they make. it all amounts to a lot of finger pointing and namecalling. which, frankly, irritates me to no end.

    why are we putting up with this? if the wire isn’t the real issue, then culpability certainly is. the wire (or the cheat sheet or whatever new, highly blogged event pops up) may not be as important that it would require and entire article, but it does point back to culpability. who’s responsible here?

  4. I don’t doubt that Dubya would use any means necessary to win a debate and judging by many of the quotes he probably was but, the photo depicting a bulge on his back is certainly not proof that he used a radio device. Thetechnologyavailable to the president far exceeds the necessity of requiring a large receiver being strapped to his back. I love mocking the president as much as anyone, I beliieve GWB will be remember by historians as th worst president ever, but this photo being distributed as evidence is ridiculous.

  5. Chazzy, well put.
    Carey, you’re right – this sort of crap helps both candidates by keeping the public from focusing on issues that would make politicians have to work for their cush jobs.

  6. Maybe he just forgot to take the coathanger out of his suit coat before he put it on.

  7. I’m with Chaz. That bulge may be the 1.5 volt battery running his brain, but I really doubt they’d be so sloppy about wiring him for sound.

    They asked for no cameras to be behind either of them. People say that is because of the bulge. Get real… they’d just find a better place for it if they knew it was visible.

    Not that I’m saying your vote isn’t having to choose the most competent chimp…

  8. Whoever wins, Skull and Bones society already has.  It is real….whether you choose to believe it or not, Kerry admitted he was a member IIRC.  If anyone likes, I can pull up the news story.

  9. Two other possible reasons for the bulge, batted around other corners of the ‘net that I frequent:

    A cardboard roll that keeps a suit’s chest tight.  An buddy of mine (IRL), former US Army, not a Bush supporter, has used them before, most often with his military uniforms, for formal portraits.

    …and an easy one, I would think… what about a bulletproof vest?  Man still needs one, as people who hate him are determined to infiltrate all his public appearances.

    Side note:  though I’m mildly conservative, I do think that the whole “Kerry had a cheat sheet” in the first debate is laughable, and I think this is just retaliatory.  Looked in a bookstore lately?  Most every recent “current events” book has a counter-point in another book, someone sniping back.  I blame Al Franken.  smile

  10. Apparently this isn’t the first time these sort of allegations have been raise about our boy-wonder president.  According to Fred Burks, President Bush displayed a remarkable ability to recall obscure political details regarding Indonesia while meeting with President Soekarnoputri in 2001.  Pundits say that Bush could not have maintained such depth of information at his fingertips and he was being fed information through his translators ear-piece.

    The “official: party line on Bush’s suit comes from his tailor, basically saying he did a poor job in the underpinnings on the back.  We can’t even get a plausible answer on a friggin suit from this administration.

  11. Imagine if you knew the frequency and had a transciever while in the audience.  I’d love to be the voice(s) in his head, just for a few minutes.:

    “George, this is Satan calling again.  Are you really gonna let him get away with saying that? You should just throw that water glass at him.  Just let the anger flow.  That’s right, someone should ‘correct’ that liberal putz, once and for all.  Go ahead, just chuck it.”

  12. Despite my contempt towards Bush, I dont believe this channeling stuff because I dont think Karl Rove would tell Bush to keep on repeating “its a lot of hard work”..

  13. The funniest thing is that the whole wire thing came right after the whole “cheat sheat” incident as seen on the Drudge Report. There was a big thing on whether Kerry used a cheat sheet (which would have violated debate rules) and a video showed him reaching into his pocket and taking out what looked to be a cheat sheat (of course some kind of smooth operator music was playing in the background as it was shown in slow motion.)I know someone mentioned this briefly in a previous comment. Ahhh the dirty tricks of politics. As someone said, if he was wired (which i dont believe) it didnt help him at all. The video of Kerry is much more convincing, although neither of these stunts should impact anyones vote. Both candidate are playing hardball and will do whatever it takes to win. Bush takes his ultra conservative stance and Kerry takes many stances (haha many positions on the same issue but hey its working.)
    Haha maybe it was a bullet proof vest. Whoever wins the election is definitely going to need one the next 4 years as there are many people who absolutely hate Kerry or Bush.

  14. It’s funny people mention “cheat-sheets”.  The Preznit (in the footage I saw) took a piece of paper out of his coat, unfolded it, and put it on the lectern.  Nothing was said.  But it wasn’t Kerry – what he had was a pen. 
    Anyway, at some points, he’s talking, and he suddenly says “Let me finish”; as if he was interrupted.
    The only other explanation for the way he so consistently mangles the simplest phrases, is the voices in his head (the ones he thinks are God).

  15. Anyone have ideas why the Kerry camp is not making a stink about this?

    We all know Kerry patted him on the back at the last debate. Surely, he would have known if something was there! If there was, then why the silent treatment? Kerry was a friggin cop for crying out loud! Of course he would have noticed if there was something conceled on Bush’s back.

    Moreover- if our assumption that there was something on Bush’s back is accepted by the Kerry camp, doesn’t this say something about Kerry’s willingness to investigate and inform the public? Or, perhaps Kerry does not agree with us (that there was something there).

    Anyone gotten Kerry’s opinion on this?

    I started off a bit concerned because the Bush camp would not acknowledge what we all saw!

    I am now beginning to get a bit more disturbed that the Kerry camp has said very little if nothing on the subject!!

  16. The campaign is silent for simple reason:  it cannot be proved.  Sure, there are photos of a bulge.  But, there are certainly no photos of an ear-wire, and that would be a decisive piece of evidence.

    And, just so you know, if you tape a wire-n-transmitter/transciever to a man, its certainly NOT on the upper-back—cause it’ll show.  You tape it to:

    [] the lower portion of the back (oft called “small of the back” ?)
    [] or, under his testes
    [] or, better, under the arm-pits, but those are costly micro-buggers

    This story-line is already being lambasted by the Bush Campaign as being internet-junk;  The Kerry campaign doesn’t need that lable floating around the press or nightly sound-bites.

    It’s best left to the grunts in the fight against Bush to make such accusations.  Unless there is a photo of a wire entering the poor man’s ear, then it ain’t worth the chance.

    In presidential campaigns there are some things best not said by the candidate, but left to those who can stand bit of dirt under their fingernails.

    This is one of those, truth or not.


  17. In my opinion, Bush being wired would be perfectly in character. Having said that, I’m less interested in what the buldge was not than in an explanation for the bulge and the strange behaviour combined.

  18. I wondered if there was anyone else that was aware that the people in this country were ignorant of all of the lying propagandic republican garbage that’s being put out by Bush. More power to this site and it’s creator.

  19. Wired or not wired. What differance does it make?

    The Church is in power. And the power of self destruction is unleashed.

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