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Talking points
October 8, 2004 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Is Bush wired? Ruthless speculation devoid of issues, considered and explored.
posted by four panels (64 comments total)

 
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posted by dobbs at 1:44 PM on October 8, 2004


This just has to be bullshit conspiracy, but I have to admit I the chirac conference they mention is a little odd. If you go here, and click "listen" and pop ahead to 22:39, you definitely here someone say what Bush says before he says it. The video makes it a little more clear.

There's probably another explanation for that, and for the bump in the back of his jacket, though.
posted by malphigian at 1:51 PM on October 8, 2004


I doubt it. He sounds so terrible, and speaks so badly. If he had someone coaching him on what to say, wouldn't his speeches sound better?
posted by unreason at 1:58 PM on October 8, 2004


I think Occam's Razor applies here. If it appears he is wired, and there is evidence that suggests he is wired, chances are, he is wired.

As for his speaking ability, if he is trying to listen to somebody at the same time that he is trying to speak, he is going to be distracted. A distracted speaker is not necessarily a good speaker.

Finally, I don't have a problem with either candidate being wired for a debate or, frankly, for any situation. Technology has made it possible for their staffs to be up their with them. Since the staff is a vital part of the presidency, I see no problem with them being represented in the form of a little voice in the ear.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:03 PM on October 8, 2004


Really? Two threads for this issue? Isn't amberglow's still open?
posted by pardonyou? at 2:05 PM on October 8, 2004


October "suprise"!!
(Intentional Bushism spelling left intact.)
posted by jmccorm at 2:10 PM on October 8, 2004


What convinced me that Bush was wired - more so than the photos, which show fairly clearly there's something under his jacket, or his awkward speech, which was consistent with trying to listen and speak at the same time - was the pattern of (inevitable) denial used by the Bush campaign: silence, and when it's clear the questions are not going to go away, vehemently over-the-top denial. I actually wouldn't care that much, since I really have no illusions that Bush ever has much of an idea what he's saying, but the rules of the debate, adhered to by Kerry, prohibited this. It amused me this afternoon to imagine the strip- and body-cavity-search Bush should be subjected to before tonight's debate...
posted by JollyWanker at 2:12 PM on October 8, 2004


yup, it is, and it's being discussed in the jobs thread too.
posted by amberglow at 2:13 PM on October 8, 2004


Or maybe he's listening to a game on the radio.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 2:19 PM on October 8, 2004


jacks or chutes and ladders? ; >
posted by amberglow at 2:22 PM on October 8, 2004


Well, I guessing that the Repubs understand the rumor is out. So if W is wired, they won't take the risk of being caught and won't use it tonight.

W improved or worsened speaking ability tonight will be good fuel to the debate.

The stakes have never been higher as far as a second debate is concerned (I think.)
posted by NewBornHippy at 2:30 PM on October 8, 2004



posted by Peter H at 2:35 PM on October 8, 2004


Thinkg more about the way Bush misprounces things, you know, it kind of makes sense if you're listening and talking at the same time. Here is a recorder (I have not validated) that is said to have been clipped from CNN in June:
http://www.canofun.com/blog/videos/BushAndTheOddSync.wmv

I think I'd be misprouncing words here and there if I were being fed words which I had to quickly repeat.
posted by jmccorm at 2:48 PM on October 8, 2004


Another example of Bush arguing with himself [.mov format].
posted by jmccorm at 2:53 PM on October 8, 2004


could be a bulletproof jacket... I wouldn't be surprised if it was.

/kerry supporter
posted by andryeevna at 3:23 PM on October 8, 2004


i hope he is miked as long as he has another debate like the first one. that or the earpiece will fall out and he'll try to put his foot on it to cover it up like Phil Niekro.
posted by graventy at 3:34 PM on October 8, 2004


All Kerry has to do during the debate is at one point look down, pretend to pick something up, and say, "your earpiece, Mr. President" ; >
posted by amberglow at 3:38 PM on October 8, 2004


"Let me finish".

On the other hand, people come on I wouldn't put it past the bush team to pull something like this, but bush had nothing to say!!!!

Don't you think bush would have been able to do a little more then sputter about how hard work the presidency was. the man had nothing to say

Cheney on the other hand, was never at a loss for words during his debates. Bush's performance was awful, and more importanly, content-free.

If someone was telling him what to say, he would have had more to say.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on October 8, 2004


::blink::blink::
posted by Peter H at 3:49 PM on October 8, 2004


also, you know they can make very small radios. Small enough to fit entirely in the ear. Why would a modern listening device create a bulge?

this is 2004 people.
posted by delmoi at 3:55 PM on October 8, 2004


bush has a tail.

they keep it tucked up under his suitcoat.
posted by quonsar at 4:10 PM on October 8, 2004


The whole idea is fairly absurd, with the most absurd thing being the size and placement of the "bulge" which has been seen in exactly one photo at one event. It could be a trick of the lighting or angle, and who would put a device that bulky in such a place? It's stupid.
posted by cell divide at 4:13 PM on October 8, 2004


Why would a modern listening device create a bulge?

The White House buys American, Sir. (*duck*)
posted by NewBornHippy at 4:28 PM on October 8, 2004


From Yahoo:

Experts say much of the gossip on the Internet is as loony as supermarket tabloid stories claiming Elvis Presley lives, but that it still has a role to play in the campaign.

Unlike Yahoo News...
posted by iamck at 4:31 PM on October 8, 2004


Feh It's the Energizer Bunny battery pack, it goes and goes and goes ........... (in verbal loops)
posted by elpapacito at 4:39 PM on October 8, 2004


I work in TV, and I can safely say that you can get a bodypack receiver that is only much much smaller than that lump would indicate, but I have also never anyone place a receiver on someone's back. It could be very unobtrusively placed in a jacket pocket or around the belt-line.

The only advantage in putting it in an obscure place is that it would be unlikely to be spotted by the TV techs when they were fitting lapel mics (if they used them)

However, I have also had the opportunity to hear quite a few people talk while being coached through an earpiece, and they do often tend to sound stilted and confused like Bush did in the debate. It is quite a difficult skill to master, taking information in while speaking at the same time.

I could believe he was wired, or he wasn't, but the bulge seems too big to be a receiver.
posted by sycophant at 5:47 PM on October 8, 2004


ok, maybe it's an oxy drip? (a la Rush?)
posted by amberglow at 5:48 PM on October 8, 2004


Mind you, having read Andy Card's remarks on here on Salon, it seems more likely that he was wired...

"If he was, I didn't know about it," Card said. "I have no reason to believe he was wearing a listening device at all."

I've watched enough West Wing to know about plausible deniabilty. And the choice of words, 'listening device' -- it would be a receiving device if anything.
posted by sycophant at 5:52 PM on October 8, 2004


"If he was, I didn't know about it,"

Did he really say that? Bizarre.
posted by cell divide at 6:04 PM on October 8, 2004


Audio Spotlight.
posted by Espoo2 at 8:04 PM on October 8, 2004


even the NYTimes now
posted by amberglow at 8:56 PM on October 8, 2004


Its a shock collar around his chest. When he says something stupid, Cheney shocks him from his secret invisible jet circling above.
posted by skallas at 12:25 AM on October 9, 2004


After Watching last nights debate and seeing the way his suit jacket hung it's pretty clear the President is wearing a kevlar vest.

Actually it was clear if you look at the pictures of the first debate, see how the line extends horizontally across his back and you can make out faint shoulder straps?

I can see how this could be missed in the orgasmic pleasure of the mefi circle jerk (everyone pull to the left!), now who's gonna mop-up the floor?
posted by Mick at 6:13 AM on October 9, 2004


Mick, why don't you go jerk off to this quote from the Times article you didn't bother to read:

Nor was the bulge from a bulletproof vest, according to campaign and White House officials; they said Mr. Bush was not wearing one.
posted by stonerose at 8:46 AM on October 9, 2004


Bush's answer to the enivronmental question alone last night was enough to convince me he was wired. (scroll to #12)
posted by amberglow at 11:04 AM on October 9, 2004


Well, that's it, then. For the last debate, I want 'em gone over onstage, in front of the audience by typical airport security screeners, and I want breathalyser & piddle checks.
posted by cookie-k at 12:59 PM on October 9, 2004


now who's gonna mop-up the floor?

Hmmmm. Judging by that NYT citation, Mick, I'd say the answer is: stonerose. With you.
posted by soyjoy at 9:18 PM on October 9, 2004


Occam's razor says the simple explanation is that Bush is tragically inarticulate under pressure. Plenty of pols have fractured syntax and a tendency to mangle the language too.

And I would lie about a kevlar vest, just as I would about any other similar security measure. Makes it a little less likely that the first shot will be for the head.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:09 PM on October 9, 2004



Exactly, Joe.

Occam's Razor is the last refuge of the moron. I have seen it abused in many a debate recently. Annoys me no end.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:39 AM on October 10, 2004


CNN: Bush aides deny Internet rumors he was wired
posted by amberglow at 6:53 AM on October 10, 2004


BBC: Bush's bulge stirs media rumours
(with a quote from Bush's tailor, Georges de Paris)
posted by amberglow at 8:44 AM on October 10, 2004


patriotboy does it again, explaining it all for us : >
posted by amberglow at 3:23 PM on October 10, 2004


George de Paris? That almost sounds... French.
posted by cell divide at 3:31 PM on October 10, 2004


It's obviously a corset.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:46 PM on October 10, 2004


People have said it might be a back brace, but then he wouldn't have been slumping the way he was. I just hope Kerry's people bring jammers to the next debate, altho we don't even need them. : >
posted by amberglow at 6:56 PM on October 10, 2004


I think Occam's Razor applies here.

Funnily enough, when I first saw this I thought the same thing. The explanation that requires the least number of assumptions is that Bush has a wrinkle on the seam of his jacket and isn’t a terribly good public speaker. I’m fairly sure most of us accept the latter premise anyway, which would successfully explain his nervous and/or distracted appearance – so, considering this explanation would basically leave us only needing the truth of the assumption “Bush has a wrinkle on the seam of his jacket”, it seems rather more parsimonious to me.
posted by ed\26h at 7:39 AM on October 11, 2004


Cryptome.org on the subject.
posted by emelenjr at 7:28 PM on October 11, 2004


The explanation that requires the least number of assumptions is that Bush has a wrinkle on the seam of his jacket and isn’t a terribly good public speaker.

Well, no, because that explanation fails to explain a) the consistent pattern - above and beyond his well-known and well-documented terrible public speaking habits - of his asking eagerly for more time and then staring into space for an uncomfortable pause (as well as "let me finish," etc.) or, more importantly, b) how a "wrinkle on the seam of his jacket" (his custom-fitted, hand-tailored jacket, that is) takes a consistent 2-dimensional shape despite his moving to many different positions. (via emelenjr's link)
I still say it seems most likely to be a bulletproof vest, but am still waiting to see any illustration of such a vest which would have a scalloped back, apparently leaving the top of the spinal cord completely unprotected. I'm not saying there isn't such a vest, I'd just like to see it so I can believe that theory and get on with my life.

As to the "they're probably lying about it not being a bulletproof vest," all that tells us for certain is that they're liars - so why should we believe that he doesn't also have an earpiece?

posted by soyjoy at 8:10 PM on October 11, 2004


i bet it's the thing cryptome shows...and now that the frequencies are out, will anyone jam/subvert?
posted by amberglow at 8:17 PM on October 11, 2004


I'm still not convinced, but the whole thing is fasctinating. The Cryptome article says that this is not uncommon, for people doing live events to be wired. Can anyone confirm that this is the case? Do comediens and politicians really use these devices with any regularity?
posted by cell divide at 9:36 PM on October 11, 2004


The consistent pattern [..] of his asking eagerly for more time and then staring into space for an uncomfortable pause (as well as "let me finish," etc.)

If someone is aware that they are a poor public speaker it does not seem unreasonable to think that in undertaking what is perhaps the most important bit of public speaking of their life – and furthermore one in a forum where they will be challenged about what they are saying – such a person would be more nervous then on pervious occasions. This could cause them to exhibit the further accented behaviour you mention. The simplest explanation was to why Bush said “let me finish” when no one had interrupted him, I thought, and indeed saw the same explanation used on a news program recently, was that someone had gestured towards him to suggest they meant to interject and he had merely pre-empted this potential interruption. Unfortunately, the link you provide doesn’t seem to work for me at the moment so I cannot comment on that now. However, the idea that the president with all the resources available to him and all those he has to advise him would decide to use a very large radio unit on such an important occasion and conceal in it such a peculiar place would seem something approaching fanciful. I would agree that more likely than a radio unit, this lump was caused by a bullet-proof vest, but I would think that the most likely explanation would be that it was nothing at all.

As to the "they're probably lying about it not being a bullet-proof vest," all that tells us for certain is that they're liars - so why should we believe that he doesn't also have an earpiece?

Well, in fact, if we were to accept this explanation, it would tell us two things for certain – one that they are liars and two that he was wearing a bullet-proof vest. And if we know he was wearing a bullet-proof vest, which would adequately explain the lump, there are even more assumptions needed for the idea that he was also wearing a radio. Of course, it may come our in time that these theories are perfectly accurate, but it would seem that if this is the case, such a conclusion will have been arrived at more through luck than through reason.
posted by ed\26h at 5:14 AM on October 12, 2004


ed\26h, well put, but I gotta disagree that "the most likely explanation would be that it was nothing at all," and I don't think you would say that if you'd looked at all the pictures on the page I linked (which was working fine last night... grrrrrrr).

I too find it incredible that Bush would use such a cumbersome setup that would be so politically devastating if found out and so dangerously arranged, from a visibility standpoint. That's why I want to believe the bulletproof vest thesis. But the Bush admin. and proponents of this thesis are not helping me - the one by denying it outright, the other by failing to provide any illustration (as did cryptome for the earpiece technology before that page was mysteriously shut down!!!) of a vest that would fit the contours shown.

Also, I'll readily grant that Bush would be nervous, and his bad speaking could be "accentuated" in such a situation. But what I was pointing out was the pattern of these odd speaking behaviors, how it fits very well into the earpiece theory (jibing, BTW with previous known gaffes that also fit this pattern) but must be explained away as random, bizarre aberrations if one counts on the "nothing at all" theory.
posted by soyjoy at 10:28 AM on October 12, 2004


Finally, I don't have a problem with either candidate being wired for a debate or, frankly, for any situation. Technology has made it possible for their staffs to be up their with them. Since the staff is a vital part of the presidency, I see no problem with them being represented in the form of a little voice in the ear.

This seems really bizarre to me... I guess the movement from "great men" to "great network/team" is really completing itself At one time it was probably expected that politicians wrote their own speeches, but in the future they won't even deliver their own speeches...

- not to say that's a bad thing, just a bit weird... I guess because I'm focused on artistic & intellectual endeavors where collaboration generally doesn't produce work as good as individual? Dialogue is absolutely central, but there has to be interaction, reacting back and forth, not trimming down to what everyone agrees on... hmm. I guess it just feels like things will be less inspired, less personal, less interesting

regarding this particular instance, it looks like a wrinkle in the seam to me.
posted by mdn at 11:52 AM on October 12, 2004


Mystery Solved
posted by fullerine at 12:21 PM on October 12, 2004


ed\26h and soyjoy, the links works fine still, it's just taking a painfully long time to load.

oh, and it looks like a flakjacket.
posted by dabitch at 12:43 PM on October 12, 2004


Nope, still timing out for me on a T1 in IE. I get "Page cannot be displayed," just like earlier. (mdn, did you get through to all the pics? You don't sound like it, somehow.)

Here's another interesting wrinkle (ha!): Everybody up on the latest Sinclair stuff, with the surveillance-communications company they're heavily invested in, Jadoo, one that got a defense contract from Bush and whose fuel cell technology he touted as the wave of the future in the State of the Union? Check out this page where he's doing some of this touting, and scroll down to the picture of Bush in front of the green screen. What new innovative device is he trying out there?
posted by soyjoy at 2:50 PM on October 12, 2004


ooo-very good catch, soyjoy.
posted by amberglow at 2:58 PM on October 12, 2004


soyjoy, I believe that piece of exotica is referred to as "cellular telephone."

Is there a point?
posted by NortonDC at 4:49 PM on October 12, 2004


Not a point, just a wrinkle, Norton. Juuuust a wrinkle.
posted by soyjoy at 8:06 PM on October 12, 2004


I finally managed to get to the cryptome picture, and three frames appear to show that there could be something under there – 15:10, 47:37 and 50:41 – the rest could make a good case for the wrinkle theory, especially considering in 39:50 and 39:51 the suspect lump seems to have totally vanished. Not that this is the best quality 320x240 evidence one which to speculate either way, but 43:37 and 50:41 do seem to show something of a fairly defined shape under there.

Soy: While I’m not as bigger a fan of rudeness or sarcasm as Norton, I’m also slightly perplexed as the relevance of a picture of Bush holding a mobile phone over a year and a half ago.
posted by ed\26h at 1:50 AM on October 13, 2004


Salon is quoting a technical expert who says Bush was wired:
a technical expert who designs and makes such devices for the U.S. military and private industry tells Salon that he believes the bulge is indeed a transceiver designed to receive electronic signals and transmit them to a hidden earpiece lodged in Bush's ear canal.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:37 AM on October 13, 2004


ed, norton: the mobile-phone pic was just a cute tangent because it's Sinclair-related. I didn't see the antenna in the low-rez version, and there was no caption on it, so it really was a question (given that Jadoo is supposedly marketing all these new, innovative surveillance technologies, not standard mobile phones), what is this. Your larger, captioned photo answers that.

And once again, I'm ready, willing and able to believe that this is something else under his jacket than any communications technology, because yes, it does stretch credulity that his team would try to get away with something so easily caught. What I'm not able to believe is that it's just a wrinkle in his jacket. While my link to the Jadoo page was a play on the can-you-believe-this tone of this thread, I find belief in the just-a-wrinkle theory to be even more of a willful suspension of disbelief. As noted above, Bush has his own freakin' tailor, and another tailor, who would seem to be somewhat of an authority on wrinkles, says there's definitely "something foreign" under his jacket. Meanwhile, Salon has another photo that needs explained away, this time of Bush without a suit jacket on. If it is just body armor, great, and if it is something electronic but he wasn't using it for the debate, that's great too - but the administration keeps making this an issue by flatly denying either possibility.
posted by soyjoy at 7:40 AM on October 13, 2004


Soyjoy, the one picture at the top here looked like a wrinkle, and I still can't access the cryptome pics, but the Salon pics do look really weird. I mean, I opened the page and almost gasped.

In the one on the right, it looks like a cord snaking up and back down... the tee shirt one is just bizarre looking, and you'd think home on the ranch in a pickup he wouldn't need a transmitter. Really, I don't know what to think about this; I can't quite understand why they would use strange cumbersome technology that doesn't even make him speak any better... but in those pictures it sure does look like there's something there. Or maybe he has some weird medical condition or something? Yeah, I dunno, but thanks for pointing me to those other shots.
posted by mdn at 7:57 AM on October 13, 2004


I will start worrying when he starts going

"WUBBA-WUBBA-WUBBA"

/obscure Stephen Bury Interface reference...
posted by longbaugh at 8:47 AM on October 13, 2004


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