Denial is often fingered as one of the first stages of grief, and on some liberal blogs, that appears to be precisely the reaction that is setting in with regard to Mitt Romney’s debate performance this past Wednesday night. Having accused Romney of lying because he contradicted Obama administration talking points and attacked moderator Jim Lehrer for letting Romney control the debate, the Left is now claiming that Romney cheated during the debate.

The source of their complaint is a brief moment during the debate where Romney is seen to put his hand in his pocket and pull something out — something that the Daily Kos suspects of being hidden notes.

Mitt Romney Accused of Bringing Cheat Sheet to Debate By Liberal Blogs

Photo Credit: Daily Kos

From the diary posted on Kos’s website today:

Mitt takes something out of his pocket and tosses it on the podium.  It seems as if he maybe using his body to try and screen the movement.  It’s very fast, the whole thing is over by 0:00:12.

Yes it could be a hanky.  But it falls kind of heavy, and stays uniform in it’s fold.  Plus it is flat.  I have never seen a man’s hanky be so uniform and flat coming from a front pant’s pocket.  Back pocket, yes, breast pocket in a jacket, yes.. but not the front pant pocket.

He was also wearing make up and to wipe any sweat from his face with a hanky would have taken off his make up.  Plus remember that old saying “Never let them see you sweat?”  If he was seen to wipe sweat from his brow, the optics would have been very bad (“Obama makes him nervous, he can’t stand up to him.”)[...]

I’m NOT saying it is crib/cheat notes .. but I am saying it’s a possibility.
It’s also Mitt “I never found a loophole I didn’t exploit” Romney, who may have committed a felony on his taxes.

This unfalsifiable theory of malfeasance picked up steam for a little while on other blogs, such as Democratic Underground and the Daily Beast, before Buzzfeed shot it down – -not only was the object definitely a handkerchief, but there was actual video evidence of Romney using it:

But according to a Romney aide the object was simply a handkerchief, not an illicit list of zingers.

“It’s a handkerchief,” the aide said simply in response to the post.

Romney can be seen at another moment in the debate using the handkerchief.

Mitt Romney Accused of Bringing Cheat Sheet to Debate By Liberal Blogs

Photo Credit: Weaselzippers

Buzzfeed has labeled this faux-controversy the “conspiracy theory of the day,” and it’s easy to see why. The obsession over the details of how the handkerchief folded, and which pocket Romney took it from show how thoroughly impossible to debunk it actually is, short of having a debate podium camera that could snap a picture of what Romney put down. However, given the amount of time Romney spent looking directly at President Obama, even when he (Romney) wasn’t the one speaking, it’s difficult to see how he would have used such a list, and even more dubious that he would have needed such a list.