The man of a hundred voices, Harry Shearer, host of NPR’s “Le Show,” recently did a skit about Sen. John Kerry’s training for the first debate, which featured a soprano-voiced aide who would ask the verbose and vacuous Democratic presidential contender a mock question, and then press a button to administer an electric shock the minute Kerry started off on a windy subordinate clause or an equivocation.
It was extremely funny, and the way Kerry kept to tightly scripted answers that fit into the debate format’s tight time constraints makes it appear likely that it was close to what his training had probably been.
Meanwhile, there is speculation that the Republicans wired their candidate, who has his own linguistic difficulties, not just in practice sessions, but for the debate itself.
The theory is that Karl Rove and his minions gave their incoherent and intellectually-challenged candidate a secret little earplug connected to a wireless receiver, so that he could be provided with answers and clever punch lines when he heard a question and came up empty.
Remember the peculiar interjection “Now let me finish!” which Bush blurted out angrily during the debate in Miami? It attracted the attention of commentators and observers, because no one had interrupted him.
No one we could hear, that is.
The comment came out of nowhere, because he was right in the middle of his answer, well within the prescribed time limit.
But what if someone, realizing that the president was flailing around desperately for an answer, had jumped into his earpiece, irritating him.
In fact, a hidden wire connected to Karl Rove or some flunky transmitting for Rove would also explain Bush’s peculiar, hunched over stance and his frequent expressions of annoyance, as well as the uncomfortably long silences at odd points in his statementswhich looked just as if he were listening carefully to some instructions!
We shouldn’t be surprised if it has come to this. Remember how Ronald Reagan used to use cue cards for everything? He even had cards that reminded him to say “Good Afternoon” when meeting a head of state (I guess out of fear he might say “Good Morning” when it was afternoon).
Still, a debate is supposed to be a test of wits between two candidates, not between one candidate and another candidate’s staff.
The suspicion that George Bush was literally channeling Karl Rove during the debate last week was first raised by blogger Joseph Cannon (see http://www.cannonfire.blogspot.com/), who says his girlfriend, during a replaying of the debate, noticed what looked like a wire running down the back of Bush’s jacket.
Cannon notes that others have noticed Bush appearing to wear a hearing aid at speaking events, though he has no known hearing impairment, and further suggests that technological advances now permit the implanting, in tooth or in the inner ear, of hearing devices that would be totally invisible but might nonetheless require a more noticeable receiver somewhere else on the body.
(Note to readers. Everone should start scanning through Bush photos on line, looking for a telltale bulge on his jacket, or for a wire.)
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.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org