A poster to another blog relayed what he felt was an additional piece of evidence that Bush used an off-camera advisor:
...during the part of the debate about Kim Jung Il, Bush addressed someone named "Ted". Who is this "Ted" that Bush was talking to? ...This would be explained if Bush had an earpiece and was speaking to his "handler".
Is this true? I checked the MSNBC transcript of the debate and could find no reference to a "Ted." However, the transcriber might well have glided over a seeming non-sequitur.
The more fundamental question is this: Why would Bush require an earpiece now
, when he (apparently) did not use one in 2000? And why is his performance so much worse?
Two lengthy quotations, taken together, paint a rather disturbing picture. The first, which many of you have already read, comes from Joshua Marshall (who offers his observation "with some hesitation"):
In 2001, 2002 and 2003 the president had his annual physical in early August. And after each he's gotten a clean bill of health. To all appearances the president is in excellent health.
But this year, according to AFP, he's decided to postpone his physical until after the election.
On its face, the explanation makes a certain amount of sense. "This has been a busier travel period for the president than the previous three years," Scott McClellan told the AFP.
But can the president really not afford one day?
And another thing occurs to me.
What was the president doing in early August this year? Right about then is when he was taking the traditional hiatus from campaigning during the Democratic convention. It seems like then of all times he had some time free.
I certainly understand Marshall's hesitation. Still, the President does make decisions of life and death; his health is a matter of concern to all.
The news that Bush has refused a check-up inevitably colors our assessment of the following. This quote comes from a letter to the Atlantic Monthly
from Dr. Joseph M. Price, responding to an article by James Fallows -- an article which, oddly enough, discussed the debates:
James Fallows's description of John Kerry's debating skills ("When George Meets John," July/August Atlantic) was interesting, but what was most remarkable was Fallows's documentation of President Bush's mostly overlooked changes over the past decade-specifically, "the striking decline in his sentence-by-sentence speaking skills." Fallows points to "speculations that there must be some organic basis for the President's peculiar mode of speech-a learning disability, a reading problem, dyslexia or some other disorder," but correctly concludes, "The main problem with these theories is that through his forties Bush was perfectly articulate."
I, too, felt that something organic was wrong with President Bush, most probably dyslexia. But I was unaware of what Fallows pointed out so clearly: that Bush's problems have been developing slowly, and that just a decade ago he was an articulate debater, "artful indeed in steering questions and challenges to his desired subjects," who "did not pause before forcing out big words, as he so often does now, or invent mangled new ones." Consider, in contrast, the present: "the informal Q&As he has tried to avoid," "Bush's recent faltering performances," "his unfortunate puzzled-chimp expression when trying to answer questions," "his stalling, defensive pose when put on the spot," "speaking more slowly and less gracefully."
Not being a professional medical researcher and clinician, Fallows cannot be faulted for not putting two and two together. But he was 100 percent correct in suggesting that Bush's problem cannot be "a learning disability, a reading problem, [or] dyslexia," because patients with those problems have always had them. Slowly developing cognitive deficits, as demonstrated so clearly by the President, can represent only one diagnosis, and that is "presenile dementia"! Presenile dementia is best described to nonmedical persons as a fairly typical Alzheimer's situation that develops significantly earlier in life, well before what is usually considered old age. It runs about the same course as typical senile dementias, such as classical Alzheimer's -- to incapacitation and, eventually, death, as with President Ronald Reagan, but at a relatively earlier age. President Bush's "mangled" words are a demonstration of what physicians call "confabulation," and are almost specific to the diagnosis of a true dementia. Bush should immediately be given the advantage of a considered professional diagnosis, and started on drugs that offer the possibility of retarding the slow but inexorable course of the disease.
Joseph M. Price, M.D.
Many will argue, with some justification, that Price should not discuss the health of a man who is not his patient. But Bush won't see his doctors
. So Price's disturbing diagnosis-from-afar is all we have.
(Incidentally, I've settled on the name "Promptergate" instead of "Audiogate." I'll switch nomenclature if something else catches on.)