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The mainstream media is continuing to report on the Bush 'bulge' story.  The reason, I think, that the media is jumping all over this story is that it is a "fun mystery" for them.  It allows reporters to speculate and search for new ideas or explanations, a fun task that is easy to do, and that maybe, just maybe, will lead to breaking news.

My view is that the bulge is not related to any earpiece, but rather is a medical device needed to correct an undisclosed Bush health problem.  I never bought the idea that Bush would use an earpiece in the debates.  Such a device would be enormously distracting and would probably hurt his performance rather than help it.  Also, it's just too damn big.  I was in a club this weekend where the bouncers had earpieces and there definitely were no 'bulges' in their backs at all.  However, there are a lot of medical devices that could account for the bulge, many of which have been discussed here on Daily Kos.  Given the fact that Bush mysteriously refused to take his annual physical this year, it's certainly reasonably to suspect that Bush has some undisclosed health issues that, if disclosed, could affect voters' view of Bush's fitness for office.

Anyway, here is a good new article in Monday's New York Times on the 'bulge' story that will not die. The article also talks about how the 'bulge' story is symptomatic of Bush' isolation in the the 'bubble,' and how more and voters are concerned about having a bubbleboy as president.

Originally posted to pontificator on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 09:20 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why isn't it going away?? (none)
    It's really a silly story.  The reason it's not going away is that the media is turning.  Finally!

    A vote for Bush is a vote for Osama.

    by Alan S on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 09:22:36 PM PDT

    •  Medical device (none)
      If Bush developed idiopathic cardiomyopathy from his drinking he may have PVC's (preventricular heart beats) because the electrical circuits in the heart are messed up. The Electrical device would shock the heart when needed to keep the beats regular. A possibility. But this would have been seen when he was jogging. Unless of course he started drinking again and just developed it.
      •  I thought Bush had given up jogging (none)
        The story is that he's had some knee problems. He took up mountain biking as a substitute for running. (See, for example,,0,3987865.story?coll=sns-a p-politics-headlines.)

        Ten years ago, I had responsibility for a monster project on an impossible deadline. Although I was fairly young and very fit, I developed a harmless arrhythmia. It went away when I the caffeine back to about five cups of coffee a day. =:o

        I shudder to think what the stress of all Bush's screw-ups must be doing to his health. That he might wear a a heart monitor or defibrillator seems completely plausible to me. I beleive many cardioelectrical problems would be diagnosable and treatable without, I suspect, Bush's ever having to leave the White House or his ranch.

    •  It's not going away b/c (none)
      BC04 isn't giving anybody a straight answer on it.

      It's not an earpiece or communications device; like others have said, there'd be no reason for it to be so big if it were communciations device.  

      It's not a bulletproof vest either; that's been debunked elsewhere.

      It's far more likely to be a medical device of some sort as others have speculated.

  •  You said: (none)
    Such a device would be enormously distracting and would probably hurt his performance rather than help it.  

    You did see the debate, didn't you?

    New poll finds that 75% of Americans make up three quarters of the population.

    by jazzmaniac on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 09:31:37 PM PDT

  •  ammo (none)
    We should provide more ammo. I saw a picture of Bush in a t-shirt in his truck with the same bulge taken a few years ago. I've also seen a picture of Bush speaking at a rally in October of 2000, before his 'election' in which he sports the same bulge under his jacket.

    I think you are likely to find this devise on his anytime he is going to need to be contacted easily and has no other means of communication, and when he's addressing the public and/or media and the location cannot be advanced. If a transmitter can  be installed at the podium, there is no need for him to wear the transmitter. But if not, as in the case of the debates where the campaign could not install a trasmitter without outsiders seeing it, Bush would have to wear it. It is unusual to see photos taken from a position that  Bush's dorsal side is visible, but if people search out earlier pictures showing a similar bulge on his back, the need to explain it will intensify.

    George W. Bush does not want you to read the above...

    by mbryan on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 09:35:51 PM PDT

    •  Really, in 2000? (none)
      If you saw it in 2000, then my theory is proven!  It's the battery pack for a shock collar for when he says something he shouldn't or stops talking when he should.  Karen shocked him by accident and that's why he said "let me finish" when he shouldn't have in the debates.

      On a serious note, ever since I saw it under the t-shirt in the pickup shot, I've been thinking it must be medical.  I guess whatever it is would be too scary for the average 'murican, so they will refuse to discuss it.

      My mother in law was totally freaked out by the idea that Bush would be cheating in the debates.  I'm sure she was voting Kerry anyway, but hopefully it changes some votes

    •  This vid clip is pretty good ammo... (none)
      ...I believe (thanks to whoever posted it here originally). I am going to e-mail it to Elizabeth Bumiller (even though she seems pretty dismissive of the story).

      There is no way they could say this clip was doctored, because there were numerous reports from people who were watching when it happened.

      And if it isn't a voice in Bush's ear saying exactly what Bush is saying a second or so before he says it, then what else could it be? I can't think of any other possible explanation.

      We should get this clip out to as many media types as possible...anyone who has even mentioned it. Come to think of it...(light bulb moment!) Leno, Letterman, Air America, and Jon Stewart all need to have a look-see!

  •  The article (none)
    is written a non-serious tone, and consists mostly of a bunch of jokes about the bulge.  Sure, there's something in there about how Bush lives in a bubble and was stunned to be confronted by John Kerry in the first debate.  That helps us a little.  Still, I'd rather see the NYT's column space devoted to something more substantive.  Then again, maybe if they weren't running this, they'd be running yet another article about the Mary Cheney non-scandal, so I guess we should be happy with what we have.
  •  Something else of interest (none)
    Has anyone seen a Democrat respond on this? The best answer I can come up with is Paul Begala denying it being an earpiece on Crossfire. Could they be saving this for an "October Surprise?"

    If it's a medical device -- and Democrats know that it is -- then what effect would it have on the election if this were announced shortly before election day? Anyone wanna take a guess?

    A Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy. --Benjamin Disraeli

    by rogun on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 09:40:23 PM PDT

  •  What WAS that thing???? (none)
  •  My guess (none)
    is that the box is to decipher secure communications.

    if he was getting help, it would have to be encrypted or anyone with a scanner could hear it.

    Bouncers at a club need no such encryption.

  •  Salon has stayed on this story (none)
    with short items almost every day in the War Room section.  And now they have a new piece up with extensive quotes from surveillance experts like James Atkinson, a pro wiretapper/bug sweeper who is willing to talk seriously about the possibilities.

    Money quote:

    One imagines that this could all be easily cleared up with a word from the White House. Clearly, there is something weird under the president's coat. If it's not part of an ear-prompting system, what is it? Is it a back brace? Does the president have a medical condition? If so, shouldn't we know about it? Is it a security device -- if so, why is nobody in the administration suggesting that? Instead of clear answers, Bush officials only issue bizarre dismissals. "The president is an alien," Bush-Cheney campaign chair Ken Mehlman told reporters in the Spin Room at Wednesday's debate. "You heard it here first. The president is an alien. That's your quote of the day. He has been getting information from Mars." [... ]

    Are we supposed to think the White House is hiding nothing when it issues statements like that?


    And the story is hurting Bush. In the last week, Salon has run three pieces on the bulge, and we've been absolutely deluged by Web traffic. The story is now a regular feature on late-night comedy shows, and it's come up in the post-debate spin room several times. Just about the only site on the Web where you can't find talk of the bulge is Matt Drudge's -- but Drudge's refusal to link to the story is itself an indication of just how powerful this thing is. Drudge instead pushed a strange, competing story about Sen. Kerry allegedly removing an object from his pocket during the debate -- an object that later turned out to be a pen. Nobody knows better than Drudge (who didn't respond to requests for this story) the value of a good, believable political rumor. The idea that Bush was prompted in the debate -- like the claim that Al Gore took credit for inventing the Internet, or George H.W. Bush wasn't familiar with supermarket scanners -- resonates with people.

  •  NYT: Massage Therapist. How about MEDICAL DEVICE? (none)
    I posted a question as to why Bush would need a Massage Therapist--based on a comment in the NYT article today.

    CanisMaximus tossed out the idea that it could be a TENS unit--a medical device for back pain.

    Look at the drawing on this web site:
    and see if you think it matches the "bulge"?

  •  Who cares about the Bulge itself (none)
    I want to know why his D-Day speech had the sound of his speech come across the tube preceding, line by line, him actually speaking it. And when he did speak that audio and video were entirely in sync. And why didn't Chirac or any of the reporters have the same problem?

    I think everyone is focusing on the bulge because there is no way you will ever know the truth about it. The D-Day speech must have lots of clues and would therefore likely be a more fruitful search.


  •  It IS a medical device -- and it's a serious issue (none)
    Not tinfoil: the best and most plausible explanation is it's a wearable defibrillator. It's not a protective vest (doesn't match the high, boxy bulge) nor a communications device (could be much, much smaller). Please see this post and thread:

    And it's something Bush could not be without for even 90 minutes. Too, it was worn in all three debates even though tittering about it had started after the first two. It's something that has to be worn in the upper torso, not lower in the suit jacket where it would be better hidden. The Lifecor vest fits the bulge to a tee:

    Random supportive evidence: Bush missed his on-the-record physical this year. He has a record of past coke use, which can cause massive heart problems years later. Speculation about the extra-droopy mouth (complete w/spittle) in debate 3, touched on possible stroke, which I'm pretty sure can be related to these sorts of cardiac problems.

    If Bush has a cardiac problem this significant, this is very serious, and requires consideration of President Dick Cheney (himself a heart liability). What would that be like? And who then is a heartbeat away from Dick?

    What are the politics of this? I have no idea how it would play. Would sympathy make it a good thing for Bush? But regardless of party or politics, this is a very serious thing, with the head of state's health potentially hanging by a thread.

    The media needs to ask about this right away, not just in a conspiratorial/giggling sort of way.  

    Kerry/Edwards: For a reality-based America

    by Em on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:47:04 PM PDT

  •  It looks like a defibrillator (none)
    Used for patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.  Such a defibrillator looks like this:

    "Revolutionary debris litters the floor of Wall Street." -Kurt Cobain, Diaries

    by Subterranean on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 02:27:53 AM PDT

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