Earpieces

Lend me your earpiece…Not long ago, talk of stuff like hidden earpieces went more or less hand-in-hand with talk of faked moon landings or the tyranny of barcodes. Today, however, that’s not the case. Newscasters regularly use invisible earpieces, as do stage actors–and exam cheats.

So what about politicians? Back in 2000, for instance, Rush Limbaugh accused Al Gore of getting cues through an earpiece on Meet the Press. In 2004, when Bush was spotted with a curious bulge under his jacket during his debates with John Kerry, sites like Salon suggested something similar. This year, Mitt Romney was accused by bloggers of wearing one during his debates. And now, predictably, the same speculation has begun for Sarah Palin in advance of her interview tonight.

I can’t weigh in these rumors, since I have no clue. But, more broadly, I will say this: that if earpieces are indeed so easy to wear and hide, then we should expect politicians to use them. Even if I were an experienced pol, I imagine I’d want an emergency cue in case I blanked on a question. (You remember the name of Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, right?) After all, a national politician is expected to have thoughts on everything from our policy toward Cyprus to the legacy of Earl Warren.

Of course, if politicians were indeed using earpieces, it’d be a bad thing. Voters would be misled–and deprived of a chance to judge the candidates properly. But I doubt we have any safeguards in place to prevent it. So here’s my question: What is a realistic way of guarding against a politician taking his or her cue through an earpiece during a public appearance? Because if it hasn’t already happened, it surely will.

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