America: George W Bush Might Not Have Been Wired to a Box in His Back during the First Televised Debate, but He Does Have a Few Dirty Tricks Up His Sleeve with Which to Smear John Kerry
Stephen, Andrew, New Statesman (1996)
So what was that mysterious bulge under George W Bush's jacket? Is he on medication? Why did he blink repeatedly during the second presidential debate? Why did he postpone his annual medical check-up that was due last August? Is he suffering from pre-senile dementia?
These are all questions that have been put to me in the past few days. The evidence sounds convincing that Bush uses a "passive transducer earpiece", through which he is fed a script that has been transmitted to and then from a device hidden on his body; photographs from the first presidential debate on 30 September show what appears to be a box, placed underneath his jacket and between his shoulder blades.
There is more. The conspiracy theorists say that CNN has broadcast a film of Bush speaking, in which the soundtrack of somebody reciting his lines a second or so before he speaks is detectable. The pictures from the first debate have not been faked: the box outline is equally clear in video footage from the Fox News Channel feed. Bulletproof vests or back braces--other possibilities--do not fit the shape on Bush's back.
I have listened to the CNN tape, and what I heard sounded to me like Bush's own voice preceding his words in identical speech patterns; the broadcast did not go out live but was taped, so I concluded that there were audio problems which produced an echo on the soundtrack. And though replays of the Fox feed do show the same box shape at certain times, at others the box morphs under the television lighting, turning from the outline of a square to what appears to be a blurry rectangle.
My conclusion so far? The 43rd US president badly needs a new tailor, and Fox should get better lighting engineers. To the other questions, I can offer only opinions. I tend to believe, for example, that Bush probably takes medication to calm his nerves. I remember the contrast between when I saw him at the White House shortly after 7pm on 20 September 2001 and when he made his historic post-11 September address to Congress less than two hours later.
When I first saw him, he was a bag of nerves, his face twitching from nervous tics; by the time he appeared before Congress and a huge television audience, he seemed confident and calm. What had he ingested in the meantime, and was the White House doctor, Colonel Richard J Tubb, involved or not?
I mention all this to show how fevered this election campaign is becoming. …