Bush's Mystery Bulge: Hearing Device or Defibrillator?

Emily at Strangechord cites an article about the unidentified bulge in President Bush's jacket during the television debate. Robert Nelson, an imaging specialist, told the New York Times he thought the pictures of Bush looked suspicious, and offered to help the Times investigate. The Times ultimately dropped the story, saying it could not take the story beyond "speculation".

I think it's pretty clear that there is something under Bush's jacket, and I wish the White House had been more forthcoming with its explanations. For my part, I think the "hearing device" theory is a bit farfetched, partly because it would be foolish for Bush to do something so rash (and risk exposure), and partly because the President's lackluster performance during the debate didn't give the impression that he was getting any kind of expert help. But I would like to know the story behind that bulge.

Another possibility - and I think a more plausible one - is provided by this thread, citing (of all things) Indymedia. This scenario has the President wearing something called a LifeVest portable defibrillator. Look at the photographs of the LifeVest and at the pictures of President Bush - especially the one taken at Crawford in 2002, where the President is wearing a T-shirt and is nowhere near a debating podium. (By comparison, the shape of the hearing device shown in the other story is a poor match for the shape of the bulge under the jacket.)

While I'll be glad to concede Emily's contention that the New York Times is hopelessly biased in favor of Bush, I think they made the right decision in holding off on the story. There does seem to have been something under the President's jacket in that famous photo, and Bush's critics were justified in asking questions - but as even the Fair piece tacitly acknowledges, there's very little to suggest that the bulge was caused by a listening device.

In fact, I think the Indymedia report is probably true ... and no, I never thought I'd find myself saying those words either.