Since the night of the first presidential debate, the Internet has been abuzz with rumors that the president was spoon-fed answers during the debate via a wireless transmitter.
Fueled by photos of a conspicuous and unnatural-looking bulge between his shoulder blades, the foreign press has been going gaga over the idea, while the American press has made it page eight news.
I think both the left and the right agree Bush is definitely not the brains behind the operation at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C. But if the president’s advisers did, in fact, attempt to help him through the debate by whispering in his ear, they sure didn’t help him much.
On Oct. 1 the online magazine www.salon.com first published the idea that Bush might have received help during the first debate. Since then, the speculation has spawned a Web site devoted to the supposed conspiracy, www.isbushwired.com, and the photo of Bush’s dorsal bulge has made it around the world and back. Again.
The finger-pointers do have a few semi-reasonable pieces of evidence to support their case. First and foremost is the photo of Bush’s back during the debate that clearly shows a rectangular object protruding through his suit between his shoulder blades.
The White House has dismissed it as a wrinkle; numerous tailors sought out by press outlets such as the New York Daily News and The Guardian, disagree with that assessment.
Making this abnormality under Bush’s suit more suspicious is that cameras were supposed to be prohibited from filming the debate from behind the debate participants. Additionally, neither man was equipped with a microphone other than the one on his podium, ruling out the possibility the device was a microphone pack.
Leftist conspiracy nuts, however, need to give credit where credit is due: If Bush cheated his way through the debates, the near-limitless resources of the White House should certainly allow him access to a radio receiver smaller than a backpack.
Other frequently cited evidence centers around Bush’s behavior during the debate. At one point the president blurted out, “Let me finish!” even though nobody had interrupted him and he had plenty of time left to speak. It is also noted by many that, during his more eloquent remarks, he seemed to pause at unusual points as if he didn’t know what to say next.
The photo and the White House’s failure to explain it, I must agree, are fishy. The president’s verbal funkiness, however, means nothing to me. Bush might be the most grammatically inept Yale graduate ever; if he, at times, appeared to be waiting for a word to appear out of thin air, he probably was doing just that.
My favorite pieces in this conspiracy puzzle are supplied by the Democrats, who are obviously shaken and upset by the idea of Bush cheating in the debates.
When asked by The Washington Post to comment about the possibility of Bush receiving help during the first debate, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said, “If he had an earpiece and those were his answers, they ought to fire every person in the back room.”
Even better was Sen. John Edwards’ comment Tuesday on “The Tonight Show.” When asked by Jay Leno what he thought the bulge in Bush’s back might be, Edwards gave what might be the best explanation I’ve heard yet.
Joe Marshall is a senior history major. His columns run on Thursdays.