let me finish??? Were the puppet strings showing?
October 2, 2004 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Q: Is George Bush being quietly coached while he's speaking in public? There's a weird moment during the debate (one of many) when George Bush says "let me finish" but wasn't being interrrupted. Indymedia has a post on it too, including an mp3 of the moment. So, is Bush being coached, even during the debates, and more to the point, how did he lose when he was being fed what to say?
posted by amberglow (130 comments total)
Yeah, I would think that someone being fed info through his ear would have a lot more to say than "it's tough. It's hard work. I know that." But who knows what level he operates at when it comes to basic functionality.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:31 AM on October 2, 2004

If Google Answers and Indymedia say it, well, I'm convinced!

Seriously though, it seems more likely that Bush just says things like "let me finish" when he's floundering.
posted by reklaw at 10:33 AM on October 2, 2004

I doubt it. As inksyndicate mentioned, if he were being coached, he'd have had a hell of a lot more things to say. As it was, he ignored one of the fundamental principles of debate: use up all your time.

I think the reason he said "let me finish" is because, given to Russian-novel-length pauses, and the fact that he didn't use up all his time on more than one occasion, Jim Lehrer may have thought he'd finished speaking.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:38 AM on October 2, 2004

If Google Answers and Indymedia say it, well, I'm convinced!

Reklaw, I'm not sure amberglow was presenting this as conclusive proof. Oh, wait, I'm sorry. You were just trying to blow this off and had no real argument with which to do so.
posted by jpoulos at 10:40 AM on October 2, 2004

"my guess is that it's an implant, not something stuck in his ear." -Indymedia

"Oh and Marty, be careful around that Griff character; he's got a few short-circuits in his bionic implants." -Doctor Emmett Brown
posted by kevspace at 10:45 AM on October 2, 2004

Playing devil's advocate though, inksyndicate- what if the purpose of the earpiece was to feed him specific relevant bits of information (the name of a specific region, etc.,) and to remind him not to digress?

Bush tends to get himself in the most trouble when he speaks extemporaneously and wanders away from the original subject; his folksy appeal really is grounded in staying in the moment- people respond to that, but not so much when he diverges and starts to sound like he's having trouble putting his thoughts together.

If the "Let me finish" was a rebuke- "I don't care if you think I should stay on my talking points, I'm the President, I'm going to finish," then it could still make sense that he would frequently repeat himself. Most of the time, the person on the other end of the line would just be prompting him with facts, and reminding him not to stray- which could also explain the tone of his "You forgot Poland!!" retort. Kerry's talking, and the facts master says, "And Poland," and there you go.

Just a (conspiracy) theory!
posted by headspace at 10:47 AM on October 2, 2004

posted by johnnydark at 10:54 AM on October 2, 2004

we've all seen homer simpson admonishing his own brain. that's all it was.
posted by quonsar at 10:54 AM on October 2, 2004

I'm not one to sneer at theories like this, just because Bush is such an enigma, on so many levels.

My impression is that "let me finish" is just the same kind of Bush speak that makes him say, "Make no mistake!" when no one is going to make a mistake. To create the impression, too, that he is standing up to invisible forces that don't want him to be so tough and frank.

But there have been plenty of erratic signs, in the past, that have left all bets open as to why Bush gives such bizarre public performances.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:55 AM on October 2, 2004

There's also the whole scripted press conference thing:
For each press conference, the White House press secretary asks the reporters for their questions, selects six or seven of the questions to answer and those reporters are the only ones called upon to ask their questions during the press conference, Suskind said.
This system makes it so that the president has answers already prepared for questions that he knows will be asked, Suskind said.

posted by amberglow at 10:59 AM on October 2, 2004

To create the impression, too, that he is standing up to invisible forces that don't want him to be so tough and frank.

Creating a straw silent interruptor as a debating tool? Heh.
posted by liam at 11:02 AM on October 2, 2004 [1 favorite]

I'm reminded of James Randi detecting the radio signals sent to the fake televangelist Peter Popoff. If this were true (and I have no idea if it is, but I would love for it to be and be exposed), but I would think it would be very easily detected by someone if true.

Perhaps someone should camp out outside debate II with a bunch of receivers?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:02 AM on October 2, 2004

Perhaps someone should camp out outside debate II with a bunch of receivers?

how about jammers?
posted by amberglow at 11:05 AM on October 2, 2004

what inksyndicate said
posted by matteo at 11:05 AM on October 2, 2004

how about jammers?

Receivers would be better.

Being able to expose it will hurt him far more than just disrupting it for one debate. FAR more.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:07 AM on October 2, 2004

will hurt him far more

make that would hurt him far more. I'm not convinced yet this is true.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:08 AM on October 2, 2004

I think the REAL reason for banning stem cell research was to conceal the fact that the government cloned a miniature copy of Karl Rove to sit in the president's ear and coach him during public appearances.

Was Bush reading off a prompter during the RNC speech? I remember wondering how he memorized a speech that long.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:09 AM on October 2, 2004

and more to the point, how did he lose when he was being fed what to say?

Because you can't polish a turd?
posted by Space Coyote at 11:11 AM on October 2, 2004

Both political conventions used teleprompters. (scroll a little) That's been true for ages.
posted by amberglow at 11:14 AM on October 2, 2004

I don't know but, I saw the moment live and he said that (let me finish) right after the green light came on, IIRC.
posted by jaronson at 11:18 AM on October 2, 2004

you know what? it doesn't matter. bush could have had karl rove and dick cheney standing at the podium with him, whispering in his ear, sometimes outright answering for him, and the people who hold that bush is the lord their god wouldn't even notice and would insist that he won the debate.

i think we need to be very careful running with something like this, b/c karl rove and his agents will take it and accuse The Left and senator kerry of being conspiracy nuts who are out of touch with reality and the american people. so...i say let it drop.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:18 AM on October 2, 2004

I think the 'let me finnish' thing was a response to a facial movement by someone, probably the moderator, which we couldn't see.

If bush had been prompted, he would not have sounded at all so idiotic.
posted by delmoi at 11:19 AM on October 2, 2004

I was thinking exactly that, delmoi - it could have been a response to any number of visual cues, even unrelated ones that he simply misinterpreted. Perhaps someone lifted their hand for some water.
posted by nthdegx at 11:32 AM on October 2, 2004

You know, I thought he was having technical difficulties with his brain when he angrily stepped on the end of Kerry's line and then, when the focus shifted to him, stared blank and terrified into the camera, blinking like a baby bird (heard that description on a late night talk show), but maybe he was really having technical difficulties with his ear-piece. That would explain both the bizarre behavior and the fact that he was still so bad.

Kerry should get it into the contract for the next debate that both candidates' ears will be thoroughly examined by an independent panel before the debate begins.

On preview: you're right, lord_wolf, that there is no evidence to support this theory, and the discussion seems to be just humorous speculation about the cause of his unfathomable behavior and mannerisms, and his patchy record of coherence; but do you really think Rove would say, "and some on the Left are even suggesting that Bush is prompted through an ear-piece during the debates!" It would put the possibility into the minds of mainstream voters, and they would watch the future debates with that in thier minds...as will I, possibly supplying my own prompts for entertainment.
posted by boo at 11:35 AM on October 2, 2004

What's most bizarre about Bush's performance the other night is that he (apparently) used to be a really good speaker. After all, this is the guy that knocked out Ann Richards in '94; here, ten years later, he sulks and sputters like a teenage hoodlum. There's definitely something very strange going on.
posted by lodurr at 11:49 AM on October 2, 2004

Stem cell research hasn't been banned. In fact, it was banned before Bush's ordinance (or what have you) was passed, and is now possible. What he did ban was the cultivation of new stem cell lines - there are only 4 or 5 lines in use right now, I forget exactly how many. Pretty much everyone working with them, however, would agree that 4 or 5 is enough for the time being, and they can do all the research they want to with those lines. So the "ban" is pretty much one of Bush's more politically astute compromises, as it keeps the researchers and the fundies happy.

Weird, huh?

As for the op, meh. I'll keep my discussion of politics to relatively verifiable statements. This sort of thing is for when you're hanging out with a bunch of friends that are already all in agreement.
posted by kavasa at 11:51 AM on October 2, 2004

i was under the impression that they were not allowed any outside info. they couldnt even bring in notes. so earpieces? correct me if i am wrong
posted by ShawnString at 11:57 AM on October 2, 2004

Geo W is being "coached" through his presidency and indeed through his entire life, although it didn't help him much in his excursions into business, which failed miserably.

Not that other prez's are much better; they're all "coached" by big business and the multi-nationals and lobbying groups who finance them and get them elected in the first place.
posted by Shane at 12:00 PM on October 2, 2004

I think he was responding to Lehrer's face. Bush does best when he plays the underdog, overcoming the dominant (oppressive) force. It did make him seem a little mad. He obviously had at least 30 seconds left (the 30 second light had just gone on...)

That indy link seemed a little excited, though. Implanted? Um, okay.
posted by Busithoth at 12:00 PM on October 2, 2004

Watch the C-Span video. At the 40:30 mark Bush says, "Let me finish," right after he notices the green light is on. My impression was that he felt rushed by the green light. The earpiece idea is a reach.

With that said, what lodurr said. I really expected more from the Pres after reading so much about what a great debater he was. I don't remember the Gore/Bush debates, but I don't remember Bush sounding so uncomfortably (for me) inept at public speaking as he has in his press conferences and last Thursday's debate.
posted by jaronson at 12:06 PM on October 2, 2004

I just assummed Lehrer made some kind of gesture to him.
Does anyone remember this?

I thought the strangest thing was during the closing statements, Bush turned and looked at the camera and started blinking 2 or 3 times a second and changed back to normal as soon as he stopped talking. What's the deal with that? I always get an image of Jerry Falwell preaching on TV, blinking 82 times a minute and wanting to knock his head off. I cannot trust someone who can't keep thier eyes open
posted by daHIFI at 12:07 PM on October 2, 2004

Fallows' Atlantic Monthly article was a great read before the debate; it's an even better one now.
"It would never have occurred to me (or anyone else who dealt with him at the Capitol) to think of Bush as dumb or lacking gravitas," Paul Burka recently wrote in Texas Monthly, about Bush's bright early days as governor. "He was both fluent and knowledgeable about the things a governor needed to know ... He had an unerring instinct for knowing how others really felt about him and how to win them over." In Washington he still has the people skills, but he has given no sign of mastering issues. Thus his stalling, defensive pose when put on the spot.

Burka says that the change began when Bush took seriously a run for the White House. He became more partisan, more formal, more cautious. The results were evident in his second Texas debate, against Garry Mauro.


Bush was halfway toward his presidential style, speaking more slowly and less gracefully than four years earlier, and with a more dismissive air toward his opponent. While Mauro was speaking, Bush would sigh, grimace, and send body-language messages of boredom or contempt.

posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:07 PM on October 2, 2004

As for the stem cell questions: the current lines allowed have proven unsuccessful for the most part, and since new lines are prohibited, the promise of research is quashed by the ban.
posted by ltracey at 12:10 PM on October 2, 2004

Pretty much everyone working with them, however, would agree that 4 or 5 is enough for the time being

Would they?
posted by ook at 12:23 PM on October 2, 2004

The problem with Bush is that, even if he is being coached, he still thinks he knows what's best. He didn't listen to his advisors or his father on Iraq, he publicly smacked down Colin Powell.

Even if someone is whispering the right answers to him, he's gonna do whatever he thinks is best. Sadly, what he thinks is best generally isn't.
posted by fenriq at 12:32 PM on October 2, 2004

Bush's closing statement from the next debate:

"Car 17....report of gunshots at Main and Roosevelt....Martinez swings! and it's strike two....now here's the 3-2 pitch....Q107! All eighties, all the time!..."
posted by gimonca at 12:42 PM on October 2, 2004

Reklaw, I'm not sure amberglow was presenting this as conclusive proof. Oh, wait, I'm sorry. You were just trying to blow this off and had no real argument with which to do so.

You know, I'm pretty sick of it being implied that I'm some kind of closet Republican just because I don't believe every piece of absurd crap from Indymedia, Dailykos et al. My "argument", essentially, is that the sources here are conspiracy theory nutjobs.
posted by reklaw at 12:45 PM on October 2, 2004

Forget about the implanted earpiece Bush conspiracy theory... Kerry brought crib notes to the debate! :)
posted by jca at 12:53 PM on October 2, 2004

In fact, it [stem cell research] was banned before Bush's ordinance (or what have you) was passed, and is now possible.

As for the stem cell questions: the current lines allowed have proven unsuccessful for the most part, and since new lines are prohibited, the promise of research is quashed by the ban.

OK; it seems like there's considerable confusion on the stem cell issue, even among my normally well-informed fellow Metafilterites.

Prior to Bush's policy announcement, federal funding agencies (the NIH, NSF, DARPA, etc.) did not fund any research involving embryonic stem cells. Privately funded research was allowed; how else could the currently existing lines have come to be? Banning all research would require an act of congress; Bush's policy is simply a directive to the funding agencies. What Bush's policy did was to allow federal funding of research using the limited number of lines that existed at the time of the policy's institution. Privately funded creation of new lines is still allowed; however, under the current policy, even if new lines are created outside of federally funded research, federal funds cannot be used on any projects involving these new lines.

As ltracey pointed out, there's considerable skepticism as to whether the lines allowed under Bush's policy are actually useful. Meaning that the policy, in real terms, had no impact whatsoever on the state of embryonic stem cell research.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:58 PM on October 2, 2004

Kerry brought crib notes to the debate!

Huh. Were they always called "Swift Vets and POWs For Truth", or did they add that recently as a reminder to McCain that they're happy to smear him again if necessary?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:05 PM on October 2, 2004

The Swift Vets and POWs For Truth should scratch out the For Truth bit and stick in Morons instead. Both candidates were allowed to take notes during the debate, so Kerry took out his note pad.
posted by substrate at 1:11 PM on October 2, 2004

"Kerry should get it into the contract for the next debate that both candidates' ears will be thoroughly examined by an independent panel before the debate begins."

I'd like a breathalyser and a cup of pee, thanks.
posted by cookie-k at 1:27 PM on October 2, 2004

Kerry's talking, and the facts master says, "And Poland," and there you go.

Stolen from a website I'm too ashamed to admit I read:

BUSH: "We have a strong coalition. Britain, Australia, and Poland have teamed up with us."
KERRY: I bet if I don't mention Poland I can get this stupid fuck to say something smarmy and retarded. "I don't think you can call it a strong coaltion when all you have is Australia and Great Britain."
BUSH: "Actually, you forgot Poland."
KERRY: Heh heh. Dumbass.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 4:11 PM on October 2, 2004

Kerry brought crib notes to the debate!

The miniature Karl Rove planted those.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:17 PM on October 2, 2004

Man, I'd love to find a radio and start feeding him answers: "After the draft starts back up on November third, I'll be sponsoring legislation to outlaw NASCAR and Pro-Wrestling at the anti-gun ralley at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, where I'll be best man at the gay wedding of OJ Simpson and Karl Rove."
posted by RavinDave at 4:31 PM on October 2, 2004

I'm buyin' that.

Anyway, didn't Bush have a minor stroke while doing cocaine ?

That would explain the difference between his competency debating Anne Richards......and now
posted by troutfishing at 4:32 PM on October 2, 2004

But trout, it wouldn't really explain the dramatic decline in his capacity since 2000.

FWIW, I don't buy the "organic" theories that Fallows alludes to; and I don't buy Lakoff's theory (same article) that it's all a conscious change to make himself seem more "manly" (by copying John Wayne).

I think Fallows has an idea, and he's not willing to state it out loud (perhaps because he doesn't want to be out in the cold). "Burka says that the change began when Bush took seriously a run for the White House," Fallows remarks. And what led him to take that seriously, we might well ask? Why, a command from God, of course.

GW Bush would not be the first person who let the idea of being a Chosen One go to his head. I heard someone on NPR the other day talking about his debate prep with Jimmy Carter, and noting how hard it was to get confrontational with him. He was the president; when you're the president, everyone defers to you. And that must go double or triple for GW. He had a terrifically elevated opinion of himself before, and it can only have gotten worse, living inside that "yes-man" chamber that used to be the White House.

At a deeper level, though, I think we're probably looking at something that's a lot like a classic Adlerian inferiority complex, with over-compensation. The kind of eye-blink-rate that he displayed in the debate, and has shown in public interviews, indicates that he's got some major cognitive dissonance going on. And his shift circa the Mauro debate to an aggressive, domineering personal style, characterized by the bullying nicknames, the scornful gesturing, the sullen body language...

He's really not living in the same world as the rest of us. His reality is a mean and ugly place where he gets to dominate everyone with impunity. ("Just so long as I'm the dictator.")
posted by lodurr at 4:58 PM on October 2, 2004

He's also been the most unprepared person to be president in recent memory. He had no accomplishments to speak of, and had coasted and relied on his family name for everything. This has been maybe the first time in his life he had to step up to the plate, and he's failed, over and over.
posted by amberglow at 5:02 PM on October 2, 2004

hey, he knows how this world works.
posted by quonsar at 5:21 PM on October 2, 2004

yeah, it works for one term only.
posted by amberglow at 5:24 PM on October 2, 2004

LOL. What was up with Bush's blinking? I noticed that too, and it was really distracting. I wondered if there was something wrong with him.
posted by xammerboy at 5:51 PM on October 2, 2004

posted by caddis at 6:11 PM on October 2, 2004

I don't think he has an earpiece, but if he does, it explains so much.

Why he used to be more eloquent and bumbles now.
Strange "look in the distance" expression when others are talking.
Strange pause before he starts many retorts.
Some confident words, followed by less confident words: "What we need to do ... urhh... umm... is take the fight to the terrorists... uhhh... where they are, wherever they are uhh.... so that this ... world ... uhhh... can be safer. Uhhh... We must not waver".
posted by jragon at 6:14 PM on October 2, 2004

I say, if he was coached for this debate then he needs to fire said coaches tout de suite... clearly they weren't doing sh*t for him on Thursday.

The whole "let me finish" bit WAS quite funny though.
posted by clevershark at 6:51 PM on October 2, 2004

this is the guy that knocked out Ann Richards in '94

I keep hearing this crap all the time. Usually in conjunction with "the guy who trounced Al Gore in the 2000 debates." Except, I saw those debates, and George looked ever the idiot in them, too.

I wish this country could produce a single politician who could hold their own against the quick-witted, well-researched, poisoned-tongued members of British parliament. Have you ever watched C-SPAN? Man, those guys would just love to get their hands on our Commander in Thief.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:09 PM on October 2, 2004

I heard Fallows on Fresh Air the other day (audio on the site). Since he wrote the article he more or less has settled on the idea that the cause of the cataclysmic decline in Bush's verbal skills is that he's no longer directly speaking his own ideas, which he could do very naturally back in Texas where there was less politicing to do and where he had a more or less personal knowledge and conviction about the topics. Now, he's hindered by the fact that some of them he has no personal opinion on, and he's just reciting; some of them he actually disagrees with; etc. There's a constant process of checking to make sure what he's saying is correct, which slows him down and compromises his speech. Ever since I saw Bush in early videos I've assumed that, I don't know what was causing Fallows to hesitate to come to that conclusion as he's clearly much more versed than me.
posted by abcde at 7:53 PM on October 2, 2004

My theory on the whole thing may be a bit off, but I think it's genius. Bush knows that the people who don't care too much for politics aren't going to watch the debate so they get stuck reading excerpts from the transcripts a few days later. By adding in 'let me finish' it gives the appearance that someone, be it the moderator or Kerry, was trying to interrupt him. In that vein he looks like a defender of his principles and the assumed 'interrupter' is too aggressive. Again only a theory.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 9:23 PM on October 2, 2004

There's a constant process of checking to make sure what he's saying is correct, which slows him down and compromises his speech.

I dunno. Yes, you might expect that kind of process to slow someone down. But not like that. He was doing much worse than I would expect due to just not believing what he says.

Plus, you have to admit: He's had no practice handling questions. He's been living in a bubble for four years, wherein nobody has the temerity to question him. And now he's back out on the road again, giving himself pep-talks with the aid of hand-picked crowds of yes-people. He's turning the campaign into an even bigger echo chamber than the White House.
posted by lodurr at 10:35 PM on October 2, 2004

I think his Let me finish is clearly extemporaneous -- one of his more natural moments, actually; he is probably reacting to Lehrer, who as others have proposed, may have assumed Bush was ending due to his pregnant pauses. (A moment earlier he had said "[Kerry]'s constnatly changed his positions. [full beat] on this war...") But there's every reason to suspect it was in some fashion a rehearsed moment. They may have wanted the time limitations to, you know, leash Kerry, but maybe they also thought they could use that to their advantage and create an I paid for this microphone moment. (The Rove machine's focus this campaign cycle on the media as a player -- all that time distracting people with Dan Rather -- may have been a factor. Bush against the media! David v. Goliath!)

Fallows may be partly right, but recall also that in 1994, Bush did not have to play defense; he had no record to be impeached. Now, as the incumbent, everything hangs on his culpability. Especially given that he's deviated from his Dad's policy scripts, he may be personally much less certain than the "resolve" the team clearly believes is politically golden. A confident president, for one obvious example, wouldn't have spent 7 minutes ruminating while My Pet Goat reading rambled on; he wouldn't fear meeting with soldiers' families. Maybe he knows -- or at least, secretly fears -- that as President he's been a colossal fuck-up. Maybe he gets that from Dad in those private phone calls; one never knows.

I agree that the Occam's Razor interpretation of the evidence is that Bush is just a poor debater, especially if put emotionally on the defensive. If he were being coached, we might have expected, you know, better debating. Reminders "don't say 'hard work' this time!" and so forth. Karen Hughes and his speechmeisters certainly know better.

But it is odd -- Kerry did take something out of his breast pocket, and the rules state pretty explicitly that blank notepaper and writing instruments of the candidates' choice will be placed on the lecterns by the debate staff beforehand. On the other hand, it wasn't large enough to be much in the way of crib notes, and it didn't prevent him from a couple of ex-tempo gaffes of his own (NYC subway, "Treblinka" Square). So what was it? We can probably assume the devilishly detailed requirement was one of the many asked for by the Bushies, but then again, no notes would seem to be an advantage for Kerry. Curious.
posted by dhartung at 10:36 PM on October 2, 2004

Remember his handler-free interview with that Irish reporter? Bush doesn't converse. He releases turds of wisdom and expects you to eat them whole. If you so much as cough while he shovels shit all over your tonsils, he'll admonish you to let him finish. He does this not because he is being coached, but because he's in sore need of coaching. A more nimble speaker could handle some back and forth flow of conversation without getting snippy. But since all this guy can do is a one-way broadast of the crap his masters have made him memorize, he demands clear airwaves in order to open his pie hole. Ask a question and you're interrupting. Follow up on something he says and he'll inform you he wasn't finished yet. And when you finally give in, shut up. and let him yak, he'll spout such fatuous lies and noble-sounding platitudes that you'll be unable to find anything to say in response, except perhaps "but isn't what you just said total bullshit?"

...and one just doesn't do say that to the president.
posted by scarabic at 11:52 PM on October 2, 2004

To me it seems pretty simple. Against Richards and Gore, he didn't have a record to defend. He was the challenger, so all he really had to do was attack the other person's record. (True, Gore was not an incumbent, but he attacked the Clinton Administration's record through him.) This time around, he has all these incredibly bad and failed policies he has to answer for. Being questioned after-the-fact does not seem like something he appreciates or is used to in any way. So having to defend something totally throws him.
Look at the State of the Union speeches or the Convention speech. All he has to do there is stand up and talk about how great his record is - and he does a noticably more competent job.
I think the notion of some secret earpiece is reaching pretty far into tinfoil hat territory, even for me. The "let me finish" probably came out of both being in this unfamiliar and uncomfortable defensive position, and the fact that he had time limitations - which is not something he is used to from practised speeches. It came at a strange moment, but it could have been a delayed reaction from a general sense of frustration and confusion. I'd see this a lot in moot court contests in law school. Someone would spout out some argument or objection 5 minutes after it was relevant - the environment seemingly "twisting their mind" around a bit in regards to thinking linearly.
posted by sixdifferentways at 12:10 AM on October 3, 2004

Does anybody remember a post a few months back where Bush is being interviewed by and Irish reporter? He used the "let me finish" line in a very similar situation. During the interview there were several moments where it appeared he had finished his response. After a one second pause the reporter naturally begins asking another question. Bush becomes irate and accuses her of interrupting his point.

My point is, I think he just uses it as a way of being defensive and buying a few seconds in an attempt to finish a thought. He probably isn't being coached during the debate.
posted by quadog at 12:10 AM on October 3, 2004

A lot of interesting points made here, it would be nice for curiosities sake to know what that bulge and wire going up the back of his jacket was. To give Dubya the benefit of the doubt, it could understandably be some sort of security device to warn him if he needs to run the hell out of there as quick as possible. Who knows?

Mostly though I think he was off-balance and never found a comfortable zone or approach with which to speak from . He had no rhythm or rhyme. As others have already mentioned, he's not used to being on the spot that way considering how carefully the administration micro-manages his public presentations and (very rare) press conferences. He had to stand on a stage as an equal with someone who clearly questions his competence and wants his job. But the thing that doesn't jell for me and I find somewhat frightening is this: We've all been in jobs where even if we didn't like them, after let's say a few months (let alone close to 4 YEARS) the issues are so apparent and (and mindnumbingly) clear in our minds we can recite the in our sleep. How can Bush , with the resources and talent at his disposable, not be totally knowlegeable of every single crucial element of every single issue and every single point that Kerry made ?? I mean enough at least so that he wouldn't end up looking so dumb?? I mean what is UP with that?? It's like he gets Cliff Notes or prep guides to study in advance and Karl Rove says : Okay here's the answers to the test...just keep repeating these words and it'll all work out fine. But obviously it didn't and thankfully the formula that's worked so well for so long has finally failed miserably (long overdue I think). Kerry deserves a lot of credit too, he cut through the BS like a hot knife through butter.

George W. Bush the Cliff Notes President.
posted by Skygazer at 12:12 AM on October 3, 2004

Someone speculated that it might be a flak jacket or bullet proof vest. That would make sense, since the president is pretty exposed and it's always better to prevent something from happening than it is for Secret Service to jump out of whereever they're hiding and rescue Mr. Bush or Senator Kerry after the fact. While I'm sure there's an inspection to all spectators before entering the room, you can never be too cautious, and it's likely the Secret Service wouldn't disclose this security precaution.
posted by calwatch at 1:05 AM on October 3, 2004

Sky gazers comment - esp. the bit about a panic alarm - makes more sense. He just didn't seem as if he had enough command of the material - and that, as skygazer says, is damning enough.

He's got to go.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:46 AM on October 3, 2004

Maybe when he said, "let me finish" he was talking to that special little voice in his head. No he wasn't. Yes he was.
posted by mecran01 at 6:40 AM on October 3, 2004

I'd like a breathalyser and a cup of pee, thanks.

If these two guys were applying for the job of air traffic controller there would be a barrage of tests: intelligence, psychological, personality, drug and alcohol.

Wouldn't it be great if they had to take a geography test live on TV?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:28 AM on October 3, 2004

No earpiece. He paniced, and in the darkness of his mind, stumbling ... stumbling ... saw something familiar ... in a debate? ... check ... getting flustered? ... check ... then maybe you're being interrupted? ... uh ... any port in a storm!

"Let me finish!"

posted by Blue Stone at 10:26 AM on October 3, 2004

in 1994, Bush did not have to play defense; he had no record to be impeached

So he's possibly a deer frozen in the headlights of the tractor-trailer B-train of justice, when he loses the election and all the lies, treason, and illegal activities are unearthed and shown to all? Bush as the ultimate fall-guy, taking a bullet for the neo-cons who puppeteered him?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:42 AM on October 3, 2004

Next up is the "town hall" debate, but the audience isn't allowed to ask questions that haven't already been screened by the moderator, and they're not allowed to deviate from what they submitted. (hopefully they'll ignore that rule--we really haven't seen deer-in-a-headlight until someone gets up and says their relative was killed in Iraq, and why did Bush send them there based on lies.)
posted by amberglow at 10:51 AM on October 3, 2004

Perhaps the Kerry camp should have some sort of monitoring equipment in place to detect possible foul play of this nature. If nothing else it could put this sort of speculation to rest.
posted by clevershark at 11:10 AM on October 3, 2004

"Town Hall" could be a disaster for Bush, or a triumph. It gets better as it gets less scripted; as that happens, his responses can shift from substantive into semiotic, which is where he excels. (Well, at least, where he has.)

What would actually work best is if someone or ones hammer Kerry with those unscripted, unrehearsed questions. He's got a record for handling that kind of thing really well; it would show him thinking on his feet. In an ideal world, they'd both get hammered with something they didn't expect. It would be a real test of how well they could think on their feet.
posted by lodurr at 12:44 PM on October 3, 2004

Oops: Should read "It gets better as it gets more scripted..."
posted by lodurr at 12:45 PM on October 3, 2004

Q: Did John Kerry bring a cheat sheet with him to the debate?

yup. his brain.
posted by amberglow at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2004

Oh, gack! That cheat-sheet thread was pretty funny, and so amazingly typical of the way things work in the echo chamber.

Hey, guys: What do you think he was taking notes on -- the podium surface? And does anyone who thinks about anything really think that one sheet of paper would have helped?

But wait, I forgot my own advice: The rules are different for Kerry, because (by definition) he's a lying cheating scumbag...
posted by lodurr at 1:04 PM on October 3, 2004

the rules are different: before the debate all the pundits were saying it was the most important event of the campaign so far, and make or break for Kerry. Kerry wins, and what do you know? all of a sudden it wasn't that big a deal, and debates aren't so important after all.
posted by amberglow at 1:29 PM on October 3, 2004

Hey, guys: What do you think he was taking notes on -- the podium surface?

If you had read the link you would've seen:

"Each candidate must submit to the staff of the Commission prior to the debate all such paper and any pens or pencils with which a candidate may wish to take notes during the debate, and the staff or commission will place such paper, pens and pencils on the podium"

And does anyone who thinks about anything really think that one sheet of paper would have helped?

Yes, because obviously he's a brainless puppet controlled by his advisors and corporate donors. Oh, wait, I forgot that on MeFi you can only say such things about Bush.
posted by gyc at 1:53 PM on October 3, 2004

Why, GYC, yes, I did read the link. And I corrected myself: I noted that the rules are different for Democrats and Republicans. If GWB had done the same thing, it would have been a violation of the traditional reverence to the person and office of the President to criticize him for bringing notepaper into the debate...

Now, as for being a brainless puppet... I suppose you have some evidence of that? Because there's a really strong preponderance of evidence to the contrary, as far as I can see. The key difference is that we have a preponderance of evidence that GWB is, in fact, a corporate puppet. You can make flat assertions to the contrary all you want, but where are the refutations of specific instances -- like the fact that cronies get all the good contracts and write all the corporate policies? Or that Enron perps would have walked if public outrage hadn't held the administration's feet to the fire?
posted by lodurr at 1:59 PM on October 3, 2004

"Let me finish" could easily be a response to a silent motion by Lehrer.

But that doesn't mean he doesn't use an earpiece. Those stories about small town folk are probably hard to remember.

See here. Possible picture of the earpiece
posted by destro at 3:36 PM on October 3, 2004

Re: Drudges brillant "cheatsheet" scoop / flash uh "developing" totally newsworthy type of thing.

That was no cheatsheet!! If you look really ....like super really carefully at the video, it was none other then a VOODOO DOLL of Bush he pulled out of his jacket and he kept poking it like...really really hard in it's fat head with his pen. Far as know there's nothing in that 32 page Memorandum concerning voodoo dolls. Not yet anyway...

Err...."developing" (in Drudge's Butt...).
posted by Skygazer at 6:04 PM on October 3, 2004

Okay, I've watched the video clip. Yeah, Kerry reaches into his suit pocket as he is walking to the podium. HOWEVER, he is facing the audience as he is taking his hand out of his pocket. Lerher is looking right at him as he's doing this...he's also doing this within Bushie's peripheral vision. That's not even taking into account the fact that he's more than likely fully aware that there is a TV camera right behind him.

Now, do you mean to tell me that you seriously think that Kerry is going to take a cheat sheet out in plain sight of:

- the moderator
- the live audience
- 4 TV cameras - owned and operated by FUX news, no less
- his opponent

Seriously, while the man is no doubt has a long list of talents, I highly doubt that performing magic tricks is one of them. We're not talking about David Copperfield here.

Nevertheless, if he wanted to use a cheatsheet, there are far less obvious ways to go about it, like sticking it up a sleeve, for example. However, I'm sure that political types have access to way slicker techniques than that. Like, for example, using a wireless earpiece and having someone tell you the answers to the questions. But of course, that's ridiculous, isn't it. /sarcasm

Face it, the man has years of experience as a prosecution attorney. He knows how to argue and make a case for his position. W does not have that kind of experience and was bound to get creamed for that reason alone.
posted by echolalia67 at 6:25 PM on October 3, 2004

I'm pretty sure he was just taking out the can of whoopass.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:50 PM on October 3, 2004

I don't think he has an earpiece, but if he does, it explains so much.

One thing it does not explain is why no one was shouting Sit Still! Don't roll your eyes! Stop making those stupid faces! into the mike once the networks went split-screen. Ya'd think someone would have said something to him about it.
posted by y2karl at 8:41 PM on October 3, 2004

That alone pretty much invalidates any debate-by-wire conspiracy theories.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:01 PM on October 3, 2004

Thanks lodurr for this, it is a great read. I think the end of his comfort with public speaking must line up with the end of his drinking. One belt of Scotch is pure medicine for an alcoholic under pressure.

But it's too late to go back on the sauce. For GWB to maintain his deeply resolute consistency, he will have to play outbound muttonhead to Kerry's prez-to-be in the next two debates as well.
posted by damehex at 10:23 PM on October 3, 2004

How the "f" can you prefer Bush over Kerry when Kerry was as, or more Hawkish on Iraq than Bush was; in fact Bush probably reasonably relied on the opinion of Kerry, amongst other people, to decide to go to war!

Does Bush deserve to not be reëlected simply because the intelligence may have been wrong? What a disgusting way to "reason"! And what a disgraceful way for Kerry to act. If Kerry were honorable, he would realize that, assuming anyone was "wrong" on Iraq, he was as wrong as Bush. And he would stick to other issues in his campaign.

And his entire "world muster" thing is bullshit. (I don't even think that, if a nuclear mushroom cloud appeared over Paris, the French would go help invade a country. Moreover, the French army is sufficiently meager that they wouldn't be able.) Doesn't anyone attach significance to the UN oil-for-food scandal? HELLO?!

But, apparently, Kerry is not honorable, and so he tries to pretend he's Howard Dean, or someone who didn't actually advocate invading Iraq.

I think that, for this, Kerry is a disgusting individual. And if only for this, I could never vote for him.

And it's a sad commentary on the American people if the stylistic power of his performance in the first debate trumps the disgraceful substance of his position.

Four more years!
posted by ParisParamus at 11:19 PM on October 3, 2004

PP: Nice post. It quite nicely illustrates how the Republican Conservative immune system responds to dangerous memes.

E.g.: ... in fact Bush probably reasonably relied on the opinion of Kerry, amongst other people, to decide to go to war!

Wow. That's a new one! Like they say, if your current reality isn't working for you, just invent a new one. Previously, I guess, Bush has been holding back -- just saying that Kerry 'voted for the resolution'; now you're saying that Kerry and Bush actually consulted on it. OK!

Bush doesn't deserve to be dumped "because the intelligence was wrong" -- he deserves to be dumped because (among other things) he and his cronies made the intelligence wrong. What's more, they were so severely self-deluded that they probably didn't even realize they were doing it.

Now, PP, you may expect everyone else to adjust their memories with the shifting climate, but I was paying attention during the run-up and I do remember that we were once not at war with Eurasia -- the vast majority of the congressional Democratic Iraq-hawks (and yes, Kerry was among them) were careful to salt their "support the President" speeches with allusions to the Powell doctrine and qualifiers that we need to allow actualy dipolomacy a chance to work. (Perhaps you're confusing Kerry with Lieberman on this one.) Where I fault them was in their naivete: Outside the beltway, any reasonably intelligent child could have seen that the Bushites were not interested in any form of negotiation at all. Every time Saddam made a concession, the Bushites got mad and changed the rules, or denied it had happened. Their logic and "negotiation" tactics were straight off the playground. They wanted a war, dammit; negotiated peaces are no way to make money, after all.

Finally, and in all seriousness, I find it very curious that you and other conservatives can so readily and comfortably apply the double moral standard that you do. It's really remarkably hypocritical, and at a gut level, I don't understand why you don't collpase into a mass of nervous eye-blinking, like your President. But at an intellectual level, I understand that the human mind is capable of maintaining multiple inconsistent or even contradictory systems of thought, so long as they can be kept out of frequent, direct conflict. So much as the existence of convoluted chains of reasoning like "Kerry is morally reprehensible because he used to agree with us and now doesn't" dismays me, I don't find it very surprising.
posted by lodurr at 5:04 AM on October 4, 2004

"he and his cronies made the intelligence wrong. "

So, "they" were doing this from the mid-90's on, and John Kerry--the UN--which passed lots of resolutions, remember-- France and Germany and Russia were all duped by the "neocon/jews."

I think you're the deluded one. There was near unanimity, including from odious corners, that Saddam had WMDs and was dangerous. President Bush differered, and ONLY differed on the point that the time had come to take Hussein out.

The reality is, everyone you support agreed that Saddam had WMDs. So you, yes YOU are the one who is completely full of it.

PS: As I've said, I don't endorse much of the President's domestic policy, and wouldn't vote for him if, say, he was running for the (domestic policy-oriented House).

But, at this time, clarity on looneys who have, or will soon have nuclear weapons, trumps all.

So, please, don't lump me with the Right, Republicans, whatever. I'm a fellow traveler, at best.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:27 AM on October 4, 2004

(and if not being a Republican, and actually being someone who supported Gore is '00 makes your head explode, GOOD.)
posted by ParisParamus at 5:29 AM on October 4, 2004

... from the mid-90's on ...

Hmmm.... you're really going to need to explain that one.

So, you're saying that the Office of Special Projects didn't do anything to cook the intelligence, at all? All that yellowcake was real? All those tubes were for making nuclear weapons? There was enough anthrax in that country to wipe out the region?

(and if not being a Republican, and actually being someone who supported Gore is '00 makes your head explode, GOOD.)

Oh, dear, PP, I'm afraid you'd have to find a much stronger discontinuity than that. (And bother to read what people write, while you're at it -- there seems to be something about "the human mind is capable of maintaining multiple inconsistent or even contradictory systems of thought" that you don't grasp.) You really should read a little Eric Hoffer. It might make your head explode, though.
posted by lodurr at 6:51 AM on October 4, 2004

The invasion was not, primarily about yellowcake. It was about chemical and biological weapons the world, THE WORLD said saddam had. If you just took French intelligence, and figured in the UN resolutions and the passage of a decade post-Operation Dessert Storm, there was reason to invade Iraq. IT'S SO F'ING OBVIOUS.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:01 AM on October 4, 2004

Don't you all get it? IT WAS A COOKBOOK! A COOKBOOK!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:20 AM on October 4, 2004

OK, OK, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that PP was joking. I get it now.

Sorry, PP. I misunderestimated your sense of humor.
posted by lodurr at 7:37 AM on October 4, 2004

ParisParamus is the Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf of MetaFilter.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:20 AM on October 4, 2004

Fuck (many, possibly, most of) you. And on to a Bush victory next month.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:32 PM on October 4, 2004

Also, see William Safire's column today about Kerry The Hawk (again).
posted by ParisParamus at 12:34 PM on October 4, 2004

Also, take the time to see the brilliant op-ed piece in the NY Sun (which you can get free for 1 month) by Mark Steyn, which includes Mr. Steyn, after pointing out the stylistically new improved Kerry:

But none of that matters. If Mr. Kerry is so polished and eloquent and forceful and mellifluous, how come nobody has a clue what his policy on Iraq is? As he made clear on Thursday, Saddam was a growing threat so he had to be disarmed so Mr. Kerry voted for war in order to authorize Mr. Bush to go to the United Nations but Mr. Bush failed to pass "the global test" so we shouldn't have disarmed Saddam because he wasn't a threat so the war was a mistake so Mr. Kerry will bring the troops home by persuading France and Germany to send their troops instead because he's so much better at building alliances so he'll have no trouble talking France and Germany into sending their boys to be the last men to die for Mr. Bush's mistake.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:50 PM on October 4, 2004

The invasion was not, primarily about yellowcake. It was about chemical and biological weapons the world, THE WORLD said saddam had.

No, it was about nuclear weapons, which are the only weapons of mass destruction that count. No one was going to invade over chemical and biological weapons.

Gregg Easterbrook, New Republic, October 7, 2002

Billed by the White House as laying out the case for military action against Iraq, the speech employed the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" eight times. George W. Bush also regularly uses "weapons of mass destruction" as a collective term for chemical, biological, and atomic arms. In his 2002 State of the Union address, for example, the president stated that the United States would not "permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most dangerous weapons," citing chemical, biological, and atomic arms as equal concerns....

Yet their lethal potential is emphatically not equivalent. Chemical weapons are dangerous, to be sure, but not "weapons of mass destruction" in any meaningful sense. In actual use, chemical arms have proven less deadly than regular bombs, bullets, and artillery shells. Since the gassing of the trenches in World War I and the Holocaust a generation later, people have been terrified by the thought of death by gas--partly because chemical agents are invisible, partly because we visualize ghastly, helpless choking rather than vanishing in the flash of an explosion. But pound for pound, chemical weapons are less lethal than conventional explosives and more difficult for an attacker or terrorist to use. It's also hard to see what the moral distinction is between being killed by gas and being blown up. Modern artillery shells create horrific scenes of carnage, and yet we don't view them as weapons of "mass destruction," though firing them into an unsuspecting city could readily produce more deaths than gas.

Similarly, biological weapons are widely viewed with dread, though in actual use they have rarely done great harm. The most successful biological warfare to date took place nearly 250 years ago, when the British gave smallpox-laden blankets to French-affiliated Native Americans during the Seven Years' War. Japanese attempts to use biological weapons against China during World War II were of limited success. More recently there have been accidental releases of smallpox and anthrax in the Soviet Union and Ebola exposure in the United States; all did far less harm than would have been caused by the detonation of a single conventional bomb...

Then there are atomic and nuclear devices--utterly, unmistakably "weapons of mass destruction." Pound for pound, these are the most awful constructions of human enterprise, thousands or millions of times more dangerous than any chemical or biological arms.

The phrase "weapons of mass destruction," then, obscures more than it clarifies. It lumps together a category of truly terrible weapons (atomic bombs) with two other categories that are either less dangerous than conventional weapons (chemical arms) or largely an unknown quantity (biological agents). This conflation, moreover, muddies the American rationale for military action against Iraq. That rationale should be to prevent Saddam from acquiring atomic weapons. This alone is reason to go to war.

It was that mushroom cloud they kept evoking. Via conscious lies about yellowcake and centrifuge tubes.

How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence

In 2002, at a crucial juncture on the path to war, senior members of the Bush administration gave a series of speeches and interviews in which they asserted that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program. Speaking to a group of Wyoming Republicans in September, Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States now had "irrefutable evidence" - thousands of tubes made of high-strength aluminum, tubes that the Bush administration said were destined for clandestine Iraqi uranium centrifuges, before some were seized at the behest of the United States.

Those tubes became a critical exhibit in the administration's brief against Iraq. As the only physical evidence the United States could brandish of Mr. Hussein's revived nuclear ambitions, they gave credibility to the apocalyptic imagery invoked by President Bush and his advisers. The tubes were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, explained on CNN on Sept. 8, 2002. "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

But almost a year before, Ms. Rice's staff had been told that the government's foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons, according to four officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and two senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets.

The White House, though, embraced the disputed theory that the tubes were for nuclear centrifuges, an idea first championed in April 2001 by a junior analyst at the C.I.A. Senior nuclear scientists considered that notion implausible, yet in the months after 9/11, as the administration built a case for confronting Iraq, the centrifuge theory gained currency as it rose to the top of the government.

THE WORLD, whatever it or they thought or said about Iraq possessing chemical or biological weapons, did not think Saddam had the bomb or was anywhere close to having the bomb in 2002 and did not favor an immediate invasion of Iraq, for the record.
posted by y2karl at 1:03 PM on October 4, 2004

In other related news:

Poland sets pullout from Iraq in 2005

In a surprise announcement, Poland said Monday that it would withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of 2005, leaving the U.S.-led multinational forces the task of finding replacements to fill a crucial security role in south-central Iraq.

Jerzy Szmajdzinski, Poland's defense minister, said in an interview with the daily Gazeta Wyborcza that the withdrawal of the 2,500 troops should coincide "with the expiry of United Nations Resolution 1546 of the Security Council." Once the troops are withdrawn, South Korea will be the third-largest contributor of soldiers to Iraq.

Resolution 1546, passed unanimously by the UN Security Council in June, declared the end of the occupation of Iraq and endorsed a "fully sovereign and independent" interim government to serve from June 30 until elections in January of next year. The multinational forces in Iraq operate under a UN mandate that is scheduled to expire at the end of 2005, when a permanent Iraqi government is in place...

Other NATO officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Monday that the Polish announcement showed that groupings like the so-called coalition of the willing in Iraq could not be sustained.

Opposition parties in Australia have pledged to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq if they win elections next week.

Szmajdzinski's announcement is likely to win wide support among a population increasingly critical of Poland's involvement. Nowak said that more than 80 percent of Poles now wanted the troops brought home. Seventeen Poles have died in Iraq.

Thus the Coalition of the Bribed, Threatened and Lied To diminishes.
posted by y2karl at 1:20 PM on October 4, 2004

Perhaps the Kerry camp should have some sort of monitoring equipment in place to detect possible foul play of this nature. If nothing else it could put this sort of speculation to rest.

Well, no, it wouldn't. Because, although the Kerry camp might monitor radio frequencies if they thought this sort of thing were going on, they'd never admit to it. If it turned out there was no improper help being given, then the Kerry campaign looks incredibly paranoid. So they might monitor, and they'd trumpet it from the rooftops if they found something. But if they didn't find anything, we'd never hear about it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:27 PM on October 4, 2004

Y2Karl, I just hope that your blindness, your political depravity and distortions--and wanton copyright infrigements--aren't typical of the people reading this. G-d help us.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:29 PM on October 4, 2004

--and wanton copyright infrigements--

Fair use, baby, fair use. As for the personal attack, well, thanks for the self-description, Baghdad Paramus.

Two Faces. One Public, One Private. One Phony, One Real.

He claims to be a strong leader and yet he is skillfully manipulated by his staff, who learned early that the only thing they needed to do to convince him of the rightness of their recommended course was to flatter him by saying it was the "brave" or "bold" thing to do. His self-image as a resolute leader is actually a lack of self confidence that is ripe for exploitation by competing advisors who use it to convince this him to do their bidding. This explains why he seems to believe that he is acting with resolve when he has just affected an abrupt about-face. His advisors had persuaded him to change course simply by telling him he was being resolute.

George W. Bush is a man with two faces--- a public image of manly strength and a private reality of childish weakness. His verbal miscues and malapropisms are the natural consequence of a man struggling with internal contradictions and a lack of self-knowledge. He can’t keep track of what he is supposed to think and say in public.

There is no doubt that whether it's a cowboy hat or a crotch hugging flightsuit , George W. Bush enjoys wearing the mantle of American archetypal warriors. But when he goes behind the curtain and sheds the costume, a flinty, thin-skinned, immature man who has never taken responsibility for his mistakes emerges. The strong compassionate leader is revealed as a flimsy paper tiger.

On Thursday night, the president forgot himself. After years of being protected from anyone who doesn't flatter and cajole, he let his mask slip when confronted with someone who didn't fear his childish retribution or need anything from him. Many members of the public got a good sharp look at him for the first time in two years and they were stunned. Like that black and white image, the dichotomy of the real Bush vs. the phony Bush is profoundly discomfiting.

posted by y2karl at 1:43 PM on October 4, 2004

BS, Y2. That many words goes way beyond fair use.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:49 PM on October 4, 2004

In fact, I'm going to contact the aforementioned publications in the hope of having them sue you.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:50 PM on October 4, 2004

Fuck (many, possibly, most of) you. And on to a Bush victory next month.

No, fuck you, Paris. I couldn't care less about your politics, but you manage to turn every political thread you show up in and drop turds into into a thread about you and your amazing superpowers, a thread that devolves without fail into assholes shouting at each other. One of the assholes is always you. I dunno about the rest of the gang, but I'm tired of it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:02 PM on October 4, 2004

What the hell was that noise?

it sounded like two contradictory systems of thought colliding
posted by fullerine at 2:04 PM on October 4, 2004

Are you suggesting that John Kerry is about to spontaneously combust?
posted by ParisParamus at 2:17 PM on October 4, 2004

"A witness remarked: 'It was fun, until somebody lost an eye.'"
posted by lodurr at 2:18 PM on October 4, 2004

paris: you misspelled "god". there's an o in the middle, apparently.

and y2karl? blind? what are you talking about? clearly, nobody with impaired vision could read that tiny script he favors.

you see, PP, my brother would have agreed with you on many points you've made here today. that is, he would have agreed with you before george w. sent him to iraq. now that he's seen for himself, first-hand, what it's like to be on the front lines, with a commander in chief who dares the enemy to shoot at him ('cause we got more soldiers where he came from, of course), he's not so blind to the republican machine.

bush is an inept leader. he clearly doesn't do anything out of his own convictions. his administration is secretive*, oppressive**, and corrupt*** on a scale that would make president grant blush. the only reason he gets away with it is that he invokes the name of god, and the religious right has annointed him the savior of morality. god help us indeed.

*secretive: all of bush's records as governor are sealed permanently. all of bush's miltary records are missing, except for the tiny scraps that were released under duress. bush has held fewer press conferences in his tenure than any sitting president on record.

**oppressive: the patriot act, passed on his watch, terminates the constitutionally granted freedoms of any individual, in the name of stopping terrorism. freedom of speech in the form of protest at bush's appearances has been limited to small cordoned-off areas as far from bush as possible. those exercising their constitutionally granted right to free speech outside said zones are being arrested. i can't believe that the "patriots" who love bush, god and country aren't up in arms over this man pissing on the consitution. that document was paid for in blood and should be respected as such.

***corrupt: the enron execs, with their huge contributions to bush and the republican party, got off basically scot-free. halliburton, dick cheney's company, was outright given all iraqi contracts, no bidding required. a plan to invade iraq from the moment bush became president. obfustication of public documents requested under the FOIA. a white house leak exposing a CIA agent, and no action from the presidency. multiple links between GOP campaign officials and the swift boat vet push against kerry. seriously dude, do i need to keep going on here? how deliberately blind are you? what one single thing has kerry done that would make his record one tenth as bad as this asshole?

posted by caution live frogs at 2:20 PM on October 4, 2004

oh. yes. i forgot lazy. he's been on vacation more than any other sitting president. he used to have daily solitaire breaks as texas governor, for christ's sake. he goes to bed at 9. i don't go to bed at 9, and i'm not supposed to be running the most powerful fucking country in the world.

see, now i'm playing into you. you love this sort of thing, when people get pissed at you. you sit at home and wank to this, don't you?

posted by caution live frogs at 2:24 PM on October 4, 2004

... on a scale that would make president grant blush.

Well, to be fair, I think any scale probably would have made Grant blush. I take the view (naively, perhaps) that he really didn't have a clue all that crap was going down around him. Smart man in war; not such a smart man in politics. (Or shopkeeping. Or farming.)
posted by lodurr at 2:26 PM on October 4, 2004

In fact, I'm going to contact the aforementioned publications in the hope of having them sue you.

What a truly chickenshit and vindictive thing to do.
posted by y2karl at 3:02 PM on October 4, 2004

and more from americablog on Bush cheating

(this is hysterical)
posted by amberglow at 3:28 PM on October 4, 2004

The invasion was not, primarily about yellowcake...If you just took French intelligence, and figured in the UN resolutions and the passage of a decade post-Operation Dessert Storm, there was reason to invade Iraq. IT'S SO F'ING OBVIOUS.

Well of course there was yellow cake in Iraq post-Operation Dessert Storm. No one else found this funny? Really?
posted by pokeydonut at 6:06 PM on October 4, 2004

The invasion was not, primarily about yellowcake...If you just took French intelligence, and figured in the UN resolutions and the passage of a decade post-Operation Dessert Storm, there was reason to invade Iraq. IT'S SO F'ING OBVIOUS.

Don't be fucking stupid. France said Saddam had weapons because the CIA said he had them, and the French, like the rest of the world, trusted the CIA. No other country in the world, excepting maybe Israel in the middle east, has the capability to spy internationally, and do it well.

This "whole world knew" line is such bullshit. They knew because we (the US) said he had them. That's it, end of story.
posted by SweetJesus at 7:59 AM on October 5, 2004

Well, SweetJesus assuming, arguendo, that's true (which I don't believe), then what does that change? Saddam gased and bio'd Kurds. He invaded Kuwait. He was shooting at our planes weekly/daily. He was starving and torturing his people. He was funding terrorism around the world.

So, France is just a pawn of the US? Interesting.

Remind me to laugh at you on November 3rd--I hope.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:19 AM on October 5, 2004

Remind me to laugh at you on November 3rd--I hope.

I doubt you'll need anyone to remind you.
posted by jpoulos at 8:25 AM on October 5, 2004

Well, if Kerry wins, you can laugh at me. And seriously, I'm scared. I think the issues are sufficiently complex, and the American electorate sufficiently TV-dumb, that there's a chance of Bush losing.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:48 AM on October 5, 2004

Ummm.... I'm missing a connection, here... 'Cuz it seems pretty clear to me that "the American electorate [being] sufficiently TV-dumb" is really something that plays out heavily in Bush's favor.
posted by lodurr at 9:20 AM on October 5, 2004

In fact, I'm going to contact the aforementioned publications in the hope of having them sue you. - ParisParamus

See...I don't care who ya are, that's funny, right there. In fact, Paris seems to have been in rare form lately...who upped the Vitamin B in his troll chow? You know that's not nice. It just makes him all frothy.

Honestly, I leave you kids alone for a couple of weeks, and look at the place.
posted by dejah420 at 10:12 PM on October 5, 2004

...Though such devices might be difficult to detect (who's going to require that the president and his Democratic debate challenger submit to a body search or pass through a metal detector before the next debate?), it would be interesting to have someone with a high quality multi-frequency scanner observe the next two debates and check for broadcasts of answers to the president.

Then again, here's an interesting idea for the Democrats, for a change: Equip Kerry with a miniature, high-tech multi-frequency jammer to keep in his own jacket pocket. At awkward moments for the president, Kerry could just press the button in his pocket and broadcast a loud electronic squawk.

Such interference could make for interesting television!

If publicity about a possible wire on the president frightens the White House into pulling the plug on this alleged scheme, it could also make for a fun time at the next two debates, when he'll have to operate solo, which could also make for interesting reality TV.
--from Counterpunch
posted by amberglow at 2:10 PM on October 6, 2004

posted by amberglow at 3:56 PM on October 6, 2004

and now Salon: Bush's mystery bulge Mystery-bulge bloggers argue that the president may have begun using such technology earlier in his term. Because Bush is famously prone to malapropisms and reportedly dyslexic, which could make successful use of a teleprompter problematic, they say the president and his handlers may have turned to a technique often used by television reporters on remote stand-ups. A reporter tapes a story and, while on camera, plays it back into an earpiece, repeating lines just after hearing them, managing to sound spontaneous and error free.
Suggestions that Bush may have using this technique stem from a D-day event in France, when a CNN broadcast appeared to pick up -- and broadcast to surprised viewers -- the sound of another voice seemingly reading Bush his lines, after which Bush repeated them. Danny Schechter, who operates the news site MediaChannel.org, and who has been doing some investigating into the wired-Bush rumors himself, said the Bush campaign has been worried of late about others picking up their radio frequencies -- notably during the Republican Convention on the day of Bush's appearance. "They had a frequency specialist stop me and ask about the frequency of my camera," Schechter said. "The Democrats weren't doing that at their convention."
Repeated calls to the White House and the Bush national campaign office over a period of three days, inquiring about what the president may have been wearing on his back during the debate, and whether he had used an audio device at other events, went unreturned

posted by amberglow at 10:13 PM on October 7, 2004

What headspace said! Top post, that.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:17 PM on October 7, 2004

Bugger. Pays me to read the whole thing first.

What jaronson said. And maybe what delmoi said, too.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:22 PM on October 7, 2004

I think that this thread has convinced me that PP is not a troll. He's more like a schizophrenic who's trying really hard to convince a bunch of sane people of something really important, but failing miserably because, well, he's insane, and getting really frustrated about it.

But hey, way to derail. Score another one for Team Batshit.
posted by majcher at 3:21 PM on October 8, 2004

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