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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Promptergate precedents

We do talk about other matters on this blog -- honest! But "wiregate" or "promptergate" still commands much attention, and when a wind comes up, one should unfurl the sail.

Let us therefore search for previous examples of W possibly receiving aid from "on high." We need not feel ashamed of anecdotal evidence -- after all, many investigations begin on such grounds. (You're in trouble, though, if your research ends there.) In that light, consider the following:

A poster to IsBushWired comments that she heard the prompter for Bush's 9/11 address on a New York station: "I was watching ABC in NYC. I had no cable and I could only get ABC from my antenna at that time (the only station that transmitters on the Empire State instead of WTC). I definitely heard the prompter. I posted about it at the time at Salon."
I've searched, but have not yet found a trace of this comment on Salon. Elsewhere:

on the night of 9/11, when Bush appeared on television to address the nation, viewers of one television station in Quincy, Massachusetts heard another voice speaking, slowly and carefully, a few words at a time – words which were then recited by the president. The voice was nondescript, male, definitely not the president’s voice, says Quincy resident Robyn Miller. This went on for at least four sentences, she says, and then the “extra” feed was cut off.
I do recall that his first statement, released on videotape, seemed particularly stilted. But I do not recall another voice intruding onto the scene -- although to be honest, most Americans would not have cared about such a matter so soon after the tragedy.

Video of the occasion must exist.

This link concerns the possibility that Bush was "wired" during a Meet the Press interview.

This site discusses the notion that Bush received prompting in December of 2003, when the topic "in the air" (so to speak) was Howard Dean:

Thirdly, it could not be more clear that Bush was provided the words with which to answer. At first, Bush stumbles about, repeating his previous line that "there's a time for politics." During this time, he's avoiding eye contact, shrugging, and delaying. Then, the answer is given to him, presumably through a wireless ear piece. Bush then suddenly delivers his line that "it's an absurd asinuation." The suddenness of his reply, after having been speechless, the smile in his eyes when he's given the correct answer, and his incorrect pronunciation of the word "insinuation" all lead to [the] conclusion that he was prompted to provide this answer.
I'm not sure if the mispronunciation necessarily helps the case, but otherwise this description tallies with the behavior we've seen on other occasions.

Regarding the D-Day speech, I may not have yet relayed this transcript of Bush and the "phantom voice":

Q President Chirac, given the fact that your government also believed that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the war, do you believe that there was a worldwide intelligence failure? And despite your opposition to the war, do you believe that Iraq is better, or worse off, today?

Mr. President, what role specifically would you like the French to play in Iraq going forward? Merci.

PHANTOM VOICE: The French are going to provide advice...

PRESIDENT BUSH: Listen, the French are going to provide great advice. President Chirac has got good judgment about the Middle East, and he understands those countries well. The French are going to work together to put out a U.N. Security Council resolution that sends a clear signal the free world is united in helping Iraq. And those are great contributions, for which I am grateful, and so is my nation.
I offer the above as a counter to those who suggest that a technical foul-up "doubled" Bush's voice.

Some would-be debunkers have offered the amusing suggestion that Bush was receiving the "English translation" -- of his own words!

Incidentally, I was tickled to see that Joshua Marshall has mentioned this controversy...
Concerning the D-Day speech, the Phantom Voice is _not_ saying "The French are going to provide advice..."

I ran some audio filters over that piece and though the first six words are correct there is nothing like "advice" in there. It sounds to me like "The French are going to provide _that_". It may be a different word but it is clearly a single syllable.
Thanks for this. The important point, of course, is that the phantom voice does not use Bush's precise wording.
At 0:11 into the D-day clip (, Bush misspeaks "And I look working - look forward to working with President Chirac" etc., an error *not* made by the voice. Further conclusive proof that the voice is not some kind of pre-echo of Bush's own words.

OTOH, the English interpreter of Chirac (at 2:45) seems to run ahead of Chirac as well: "Again I repeat ..." comes before Chirac actually says "Je repete".

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