...Or are you just happy to be here? Various websites (The Daily Recycler was the first one I encountered, so they get the nod) are claiming that John Kerry "cheated" during the debates, because video seems to show him pulling what may or may not be a piece of paper from his jacket as he approaches the podium. My thoughts:
Kerry would have to be pretty ballsy to attempt something like that, knowing that he would be on-camera. Although, I suppose he could have just thought that it was unlikely that anyone would make a scene while cameras were rolling.
The video certainly shows him taking something out of his jacket pocket and placing it on the podium. In addition, it looks to me as if he unfolds it after he places it on the podium. It has been suggested that it may have been a handkerchief. This seems unlikely, as I never noticed him using it, nor do I think he would have, considering he was wearing makeup. Regardless, the rules of the debate, agreed upon by both candidates, specify that "No props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by either candidate" (emphasis mine). The only thing that might be allowed under those rules would be a pair of eyeglasses, which the object clearly was not. I have no choice but to conclude that given the rules and the video, that Senator Kerry did, in fact, break the rules of the debate.
So he broke the rules. Is it really that big of a deal? I guess it depends on what the object actually was. Some people have suggested that since the moderator is from a network that is clearly on Kerry's side, he may have had some advance knowledge of the questions. Without some other evidence, I find that a little unbelievable. Related to that, it's been pointed out that at one point, Kerry gives part of an answer and then says something to the effect of "we'll talk about that later." The idea is that he had some advance knowledge of what the questions were going to be. I think it's probably more likely that he didn't specifically know, but had a good idea, as we all did, what other kinds of questions were coming and wanted to wait until an appropriate time. Now, having said all that, it does look to me like a piece of paper. And since pens and paper had been placed at the podium previously for the candidates to use, there would be no reason for Kerry to bring his own paper unless that paper had notes, etc. on it. If that is the case, I believe it is very serious. Those who read this blog semi-regularly know that I believe (and that a great preponderance of evidence has shown) that Kerry has manipulated, spun, and outright lied about his war record. I know that political candidates tend to exaggerate while campaigning--for example, Kerry's little story about the veterans who said "we need you," etc., struck me as just as phony as his line from a while back about how foreign leaders had contacted him--and I try not to hold that kind of thing against them. But in Kerry's case, it just seems to be part of a larger pattern. And that's a problem, at least for me. I don't want that sort of fellow in charge of the country.
Well, that's about it. It seems likely that Kerry did break the rules, but we'll probably never know for sure just what was on that paper, if that's what it was. I don't think you can say much more than that. I don't think the Bush camp should even bother with it. Truth is, it sounds like a bit like a nutty conspiracy kind of thing, and it will just make them look bad to complain about it. But I would keep a close eye on Kerry the next debate if I were them, and if it happens again, I would politely point out to the moderator that Senator Kerry might be unaware that the rules prohibit bringing notes to the podium, and that as the moderator, he has a duty to enforce those rules. Of course, after this has been all over the Internet, Kerry would have to be crazy to try it again. I mean, he's no Dan Rather.