The melodramatic slo-mo made me laugh, so I feel obliged to post even though most of you probably have already seen it elsewhere. Accusing the other team’s guy of using mysterious debate paraphernalia to cheat is an old-school blogosphere tradition. The left collectively wet itself over a mysterious bulge in George W. Bush’s jacket at the debate in 2004, making enough of a stink that the story got picked up overseas. (The bulge turned out to be a strap for his bulletproof vest, not a wire for an earpiece as liberals had speculated.) Our side countered at the time by noting that John Kerry appeared to have pulled something from his own jacket pocket that looked like a crib sheet. (It turned out to be a pen.) Suspicions about the Bush “bulge” broke big because it fit the left’s narrative that he was really just a high-functioning chimpanzee who needed his lines fed to him by Karl Rove. This new one, accusing Romney of using a crib sheet, won’t get as much traction because even most Mitt-haters accept, however grudgingly, that he’s a smart guy who’s fully capable of mastering the information needed to do well at a debate. Rarely during the campaign have even his detractors accused him of being stupid, and the notable exceptions had more to do with him allegedly being wildly “out of touch” than with being dumb. Remember, liberals think all conservatives are evil, crazy, *or* stupid, not *and.*
But yeah, this’ll still get some circulation on lefty blogs — and maybe not just blogs — for the simple reason that the Lightbringer was roundly humiliated on Wednesday and it’s easier to cope with that failure if you think something sinister and extraordinary was afoot in causing it. That’s why Jim Lehrer, who’s moderated endless presidential debates, is somehow now being treated as the X factor that caused President Uhhhh to have a bad night. All partisans use those defense mechanisms sometimes; the left thinks our side is using them right now. But yes, in case there’s any doubt: It was indeed a handkerchief in Romney’s hand.