WWW Opinion Times

Monday, October 04, 2004

Kerry-gate: Did He Cheat?

Did John Kerry cheat? It seems so. For those who have not seen the video, here is the Boston.com feed and a closeup view of the moment when Kerry pulled something out of his pocket. A looking at the closeup shows something white being pulled out of his pocket, movement to unfold something, then movement to remove a cap from a pen. The view I see is a ruse whereby the notes were attached to his pen to give a manufactured excuse: it was a pen. "Oops, there I go again." Has John Kerry become the Britney Spears candidate?

The New York Post talks about the blogsphere's actions this weekend.

New York Post Online Edition: news: "Many blogs offered links to the 'Pocket-gate' footage. One, INDC Journal, even posted frame-by-frame stills purporting to show Kerry pulling out a notecard and placing it onto the podium.

But the mystery was solved when The Post reviewed a Fox News Channel feed from Thursday's debate: Kerry pulled out . . . a black pen.

Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade remained angry at the bloggers' guilt-by-insinuation."

Why does all this matter? Because Character matters. John Kerry is smart enough to understand the rules, and this was a critical one. The rules were unquestionable, as reported by Matt Drudge:

Drudge Reports: 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..."

It has been up for debate in many minds throughout history whether "good guys finish last." Let's be clear, with the American electorate--more times than not--the "better" guy tends to win. American Voters in the middle gravitate toward leadership and character precisely because they don't know which way to go. The voters will see through the tactics. And the CBS debacle only adds to Kerry's problem as this most recent story is understood by those who hear of it.

Now that the internet has changed the way informaiton is dissemanated, it's hard to hide. John Kerry clearly hoped he could, and he got caught.