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Hel'n
10-17-2004, 06:03 PM
WASHINGTON In these closing weeks of the presidential campaign, the talk at an edgy White House is of polls, turnout, swing voters and polls. There are also two story lines from the presidential debates that to the exasperation of President George W. Bush's advisers won't go away: the bubble and the bulge.
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The bulge - the strange rectangular box visible between the president's shoulder blades in the first debate - has triggered so much frenzied speculation on the Internet that it has become what literary critics call an objective correlative, or an object that evokes large emotions and ideas.
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The bulge is in many ways related to the bubble, which is the word Bush himself uses to describe the isolation of the presidency. In this case, Bush's critics argue that he has so walled himself off from dissent in his bubble that he was ill prepared to take on the challenge of Senator John Kerry in their three debates. Therefore, Bush had to make use of the bulge, which is most popularly rumored to be a radio receiver that transmitted answers from an offstage adviser into a hidden presidential earpiece.
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In the last two weeks, the bulge has taken on a life of its own to become a symbol to Bush's critics of all that is wrong with his presidency. Pictures on the Internet last week showed protuberances under Bush's T-shirt at his ranch and again under his coat at the second debate; nothing was spotted at the third debate. Some theories had the bulge as a bulletproof vest or a tracking device to help the Secret Service locate the president should he be kidnapped.
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The White House flatly denied it all, and continued to insist that the bulge wasn't there, or that it amounted to nothing. "I think it is about the most ridiculous story of the campaign," said Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary.
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"Listen, I'm there when he puts his coat on, I'm there when he takes it off, I've never seen it," said Mark McKinnon, Bush's chief media adviser.
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"I know that the Internet claims it was all different things, but to my knowledge, it was just a poorly tailored suit," said Andrew Card Jr., the White House chief of staff.
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"The box was one of those shock collars," said Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager, who was joking. Mehlman made his comments in Arizona late Wednesday after Bush's scowl-free performance in the last debate, and brought up the bulge without being asked. "Every time he scowled he was shocked," Mehlman said. "And so tonight he was great."
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The larger question is whether Bush has so retreated into the cocoon of the White House that he was stunned to be confronted by Kerry, and flared with anger in the first debate. Not surprisingly, his advisers insisted that wasn't so - up to a point. McKinnon, when asked after the debate last week if he ever disagreed with Bush, said, "Ah, yeah, sure." Then he paused, and laughed. "I prefer for others to go into the propeller first."
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McKinnon, who helped prepare the president for the debates, was asked what critical things he said to Bush. He replied, "Well, you know, that answer's not as sharp as it could be, the body language is, you know, ah, you may not be, ah, may not communicate well."
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The president, McKinnon said, is "competitive, and he does want to improve his game, so he understands that." Still, McKinnon said that Bush would sometimes bark back. "But we weigh back in and say, 'Listen, we have a consensus view here, and here's what we believe,"' McKinnon said. "The difference over the course of these debates has had a whole lot more to do with him and his competitive instincts than with us."
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Some Republicans had a different view. "I don't think he was prepared for the determined responses and John Kerry's performance," said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster.
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David Gergen, a professor of public service at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a veteran of the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton White Houses, said that all presidents live in bubbles, but that Bush's seemed unusually thick. "One had the sense that he was out of training in the rough-and-tumble of argument," Gergen said. "He's lost his edge."
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Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was considerably more caustic.
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"I think George Bush lives in the twilight zone," he said after last Wednesday's debate. As for the bulge, McAuliffe said that "if he had an earpiece on during that debate and those are the best answers that he could do, then he should be impeached and everybody who works for him should never be allowed to work again." Finished with his sound bite, McAuliffe grew serious.
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"I honestly don't think the man is going to risk his presidency taking a transmitter into the debate," he said. "I just can't imagine."
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http://www.iht.com/articles/2004/10/17/news/letter.html

wazu
10-17-2004, 06:06 PM
The bulge - the strange rectangular box visible between the president's shoulder blades in the first debate - has triggered so much frenzied speculation on the Internet that it has become what literary critics call an objective correlative, or an object that evokes large emotions and ideas.

Oh well. There goes the "literary critic" vote.

unlurking
10-17-2004, 06:09 PM
Boy this topic is getting old.

RINGLEADER
10-17-2004, 06:11 PM
Boy this topic is getting old.


No doubt. But the polls today show that it's doing Kerry just tons of good!

Besides we all know it was nothing more than Bush's wind-up box. And we all know that knucklehead Rove didn't turn the key enough times before the first debate.