Michael Totten

Did Kerry Cheat?

Drudge is accusing John Kerry of cheating in his first debate against George W. Bush.
He has video showing that Kerry took something out of his jacket pocket and placed it on the podium.
Why is this a problem?

Section 5, pages 4-5 of the binding “Memorandum of Understanding” that was negotiated and agreed upon by both political campaigns states:

“No props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by either candidate…. Each candidate must submit to the staff of the Commission prior to the debate all such paper and any pens or pencils with which a candidate may wish to take notes during the debate, and the staff or commission will place such paper, pens and pencils on the podium…”

Hmm. I dunno. It’s so…high school. If Kerry were to actually be busted cheating in the debates he would be in far worse trouble than if he had lost the debate. And why should he worry about losing a debate in the first place? Bush is awful in public and he always has been. Kerry is well-known as one of Yale’s top debaters.
This looks bad for him, though.

A top Kerry campaign source explained to the DRUDGE REPORT late Sunday how Bush supporters were once again trying to distract.
“Kerry did not cheat,” said the Kerry insider. “This is more lies from Republicans, who are hoping for a quick change of subject away from the president’s performance, and the new polls.”
When pressed on the fact that even brandishing a pen from his jacket would have violated debate rules, the Kerry staffer laughed, adding, “See you at the inauguration, Drudge”.

That’s it? The Kerry campaign doesn’t have anything to say except this is a Republican lie? Look at the video. It’s not a lie. He may not have pulled a hidden note card out of his pocket, but he pulled something out of his pocket. I watched him do it, and I watched in slow motion.
That lame defense only makes Kerry look guilty. And I’m inclined to think he isn’t guilty, not because I’m a fan but because it would be just too damn stupid. Maybe he pulled a piece of gum out of his pocket. I’ve no idea, but his campaign is going to have to come up with something more convincing than “that TV camera is a lying GOP operative.”
UPDATE: Bush cheated, too! Well, no. Actually, he probably didn’t. And like I said, Kerry probably didn’t cheat, either. The odds that one of them cheated are miniscule enough. The odds that both of them cheated are vanishingly close to zero.