Amy Sullivan writes about the hollowness of Bush's "faith based" agenda, characterizing it as a political ploy to enhance the conservative Christian sense of persecution. She's right, of course - but the dynamics are much more interesting than that. I read a great piece of analysis somewhere yesterday (I'll find the link later, I need to get ready for a debate watching party) on the way that conservative persecution (victimology, even), is advanced by electoral, legislative, and legal losses. I have long been an acolyte of the Tom Frank school, so this isn't a particularly novel argument, but it's really necessary to understand conservative electoral and legislative strategy.
On a related note, the New Democrats' skewering of Bush's record on "compassionate conservatism" almost makes up for Mark Penn's obnoxious oped in Tuesday's WP [Yglesias at Tapped takes down Penn].
Sullivan's analysis leaves out an important consideration in Bush's "faith based" plan. John Diulio made clear that political gain was all that mattered to the Mayberry Machiavellis running the program, but there are two ways it does so: by increasing persecution and by rewarding supporters with pork. It is a classic case of Bush using public money to advance his electoral interests, much like giving the Independent Women's Forum a $10 million contract to educate Iraqi women on democracy. The quid pro quo is apparent: send me your parish directories, stump for me from the pulpit, register voters for me, and you will get $$$.
I said almost a month ago that I though the most effective strategy against GWB is that he is "out of touch, irresponsible and unconcerned." Maybe by that point it was obvious to everyone, but I thought Kerry really needed to slam home Bush's detachment from reality, it's uniformly self-serving nature, and his complete lack of concern about it.
If I have a theory, and it consistently fails to bear any relationship to reality, I try to reevaluate it. Especially when it is self serving - I recognize that I am more likely to believe things that make me feel better about myself. Bush just denies the facts, never daring a glance back at the hypothesis.
Obviously, Kerry-Edwards very soon after settled on a similar strategy. Will Saletan argues that "out of touch" is the unifying theme of five of Kerry-Edwards most recent ads. Mark Kleiman advances the ball, giving some serious thought to whether Bush is a liar, a fantabulist, or a bullshitter. He also helpfully provides a visual for the narrative.
To an extent, though, I agree with Weisberg's criticism of Kerry-Edwards implementation of the strategy. I don't agree with his criticism of the ads, and I think he is underestimating the American people when he makes them. I don't agree with any criticism of Kerry or Edwards, who shouldn't be engaged in crass Bush level mocking of their opponent. They are presidential material, and it shows.
Where Weisberg's criticisms really hit home, though, is with the proxy spinners. After Edwards won Tuesday's debate, Mary Beth Cahill was interviewed by MSNBC, and her spin was "Edwards looked good." That isn't good enough, and her inept spin may have presaged the abominable MSNBC coverage of the debate. Every proxy spinner needs to be on the same page, and they need to consistently and forcefully call George Bush on his fables.
It's not a question of needing time to formulate the talking points. Bush's lies are easily predicted. The first, and most important lie that every spinner should call Bush on is "John Kerry is a flip flopper." Bush will say it time and again - he is using it to explain his obnoxious expressions from last week's debate - and Kerry supporters need to be prepared and willing to just call it what it is: a lie. Other predictable fantasy statements: Economy is strong, tax cuts helped the economy, NCLB is working, the Iraq coalition is strong, things are improving on the ground in Iraq, Saddam was connected to al Qaeda, Saddam was a threat, Kerry wants to raise taxes, Kerry wants to nationalize health care, Kerry doesn't have a plan for Iraq... The list goes on and on. Spinners need to have their talking points in advance, they have to be on message, and they need to drive Bush's unreality home.
Yesterday Kevin Drum linked to this nice little CSIS infographic [pdf], which was seemingly put out to remind the world (including debate viewers) about this report [pdf] on problems facing the reconstruction effort in Iraq.
Either CSIS is more powerful than I thought, or their timing was really good. The AP put out a story on some of the problems last night:
''The security situation here in Iraq has made it much more difficult than we anticipated than I think anyone had anticipated to get the reconstruction work done,'' Bill Taylor, director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, told reporters at the Pentagon in a video teleconference from Baghdad.
Security costs were estimated at 30% of total expenses, but are running as high as 50%. Reuters adds that the US is reevaluating high overhead projects:
U.S. officials are looking at the viability of high-overhead work to determine if these projects are worth continuing.
"In those (high cost) areas we are focusing our attention to make sure we are investing our money wisely and not just in security costs but that we are investing in projects that truly make a difference," Hess told reporters at the Pentagon via a teleconference from Baghdad.
Meanwhile, AFP reports that Iraqis lack sewers and drinking water, and don't have the money to fix the problems:
Iraq only has 10 percent of the money needed over the next six years to fix its sewerage and drinking water systems, a dilemma worsened by a US proposal to shift two billion dollars earmarked for the sector to security, the public works minister said on Thursday.
Unfortunately the Iraqi public works minister may be understating the problem. According to UPI, Negroponte may be taking $3 billion, not $2 billion, for security, and some undisclosed other amount for "oil exporting."
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte is moving $3 billion previously scheduled for reconstruction work into boosting security in Iraq.
"Our problem is that we have $18.4 billion. We don't have more money. What we have is a different set of priorities. So in order to provide additional funds for the police and the National Guard and the army, we had to reduce funds for other areas. And the two areas that we took funds from are water and electricity," Hess said.
Negroponte plans to add money to oil exporting in an effort to boost the funding stream coming into the Iraqi government.
PSYCHOLOGY: Fair Trade or Fair Play A distressing trend of the past few decades has been the increasing regard for quantification of behavior with the attendant corollary that developing a metric and quantitatively analyzing it are sufficient for understanding how humans behave. Within the realm of social exchanges, monetization, whether of time or productivity or reward, is readily achieved, and open markets soon establish prices for everything and anything. But is this the whole story?
Heyman and Ariely describe a trio of experiments, loosely based on Tom Sawyer and his whitewashing escapade, that reveal behavior in a social versus a monetary market. Small- or medium-sized payments of money or candy, or no payment at all, were used as incentives for students to perform a set of tasks designed to gauge the extent of effort expended. As expected, effort increased with the amount of money paid. In contrast, effort was relatively insensitive to the amount of candy offered, but explicitly mentioning the prices of the small and medium amounts of candy resulted in expended effort that did then vary with price. The authors suggest that social and monetary markets evoke different behaviors and may rely on dissimilar motivations, with the tacit considerations of altruism and reputation in the former, and the impersonal aspects of quotidian labor in the other. -- GJC
Psychol. Sci., in press.
As Ron Brownstein notes in today's LA Times, the reception of the CIA's Iraq Survey Group report may be the "tipping point" in the presidential election. Bush is going to generate new rationales for war, Kerry will criticize him, and Bush will say "Kerry saw the same intelligence as I did, and thought Hussein was a threat." The key, as ever, is to hold Bush accountable, not just for his fuckups in Iraq, but for his unwillingness to be honest with the American people.
Here's how its playing out in the conservative Cincinnati Post:
"The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions,'' Bush said. "He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away.''
This line of defense about the justification for the war brought a blistering -- and warranted -- response from Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry: "You don't make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact.''
It bears noting that Bush, in his remarks Thursday, suggested that he was relying on what "our intelligence'' was reporting.
But the buck stops at his desk. And the overriding fact is that the Bush administration was wrong. Saddam Hussein never had the weapons of massage destruction that Bush said he had.
According to the LA Times, Bush-Cheney and the NRSC have pulled advertising money from Washington state. That's obviously good for Kerry and Senator Murray.
"It's probably safe to start calling Washington for Kerry based on media buys," said Evan Tracey, chief operating officer for TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group. "Bush is down below the watermark of reasonable advertising."
Contrary to Bush's assertions that the Iraqi threat was "grave and gathering," the Iraqi threat was decrepit and declining.
The the final report of the chief U.S. arms inspector, Charles Duelfer, concludes that Hussein did not have any weapons of mass destruction or any active WMD programs. In fact, "the state of Hussein's weapons-development programs and knowledge base was less advanced in 2003, when the war began, than it was in 1998, when international inspectors left Iraq." [WP]
The emerging consensus seems to be that last night's VP debate was a tie. This is wrong: Edwards was the clear winner. He didn't win in a TKO, a KO, or on points. He won on a DQ. Cheney's lies were simply too great and too numerous: he should have been disqualified.
Despite that report, Cheney said that Saddam's regime allowed Zarqawi "to set up shop in Baghdad" and run a poison facility in "Khurmal."
The facility was actually in a hamlet called Sargat.
Sargat, however, is in a region of Iraq that was under the control of U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels, not Saddam's forces, where U.S. intelligence agencies believe Zarqawi spent most of his time before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Cheney said Zarqawi is now in Baghdad; U.S. intelligence agencies believe he's probably in the city of Fallujah, which is controlled by insurgents. [KR]
He lied about the allocation of coalition casualties. Iraqi sacrifices are important, but they are not part of the coalition, and they account for roughly 38% of troop casualties. See Factcheck.org and the LA Times.
He lied about Halliburton. He pretended that the answers to Edwards' questions could be found at Factcheck.org. There are no answers there, and they note it. Knight-Ridder helpfully points us to http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=67605&p=irol-sec, where Halliburton's own disclosures support Edwards' contentions.
He lied about small businesses, claiming that the Kerry-Edwards tax plan would hurt 900,000 small businesses, responsible for 70% of American job creation.But:
That number is drawn from an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture by the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, which concluded that the Kerry plan would increase taxes on 995,000 taxpayers with "business income." The Tax Policy Center has since adjusted that analysis and cut the number in half. Moreover, most of those taxpayers have no employees beside themselves and only half of them derived most of their income from business. With 33 million small businesses in the country, left unsaid in Cheney's criticism is that more than 32 million wouldn't be affected or would benefit from Kerry's plan. [KR]
I understand that sometimes newspapers have to put out hastily crafted work. So without much scorn, I just want to note a couple of errors in the Washington Post's factcheck of the VP debate.
Edwards asserted that "millionaires sitting by their swimming pool . . . pay a lower tax rate than the men and women who are receiving paychecks for serving" in Iraq. President Bush last year cut the tax rate on dividends to 15 percent, whereas most soldiers would be in a 15 percent tax bracket -- and pay an effective rate much less after taking deductions for children and mortgages.
The Post ignores the payroll tax. It also fails to mention deductions available to those living on dividends and capital gains, despite mentioning those available to soldiers.
Edwards, for his part, asserted that the war in Iraq has cost $200 billion "and counting," an assertion that Cheney called him on. Cheney said the government has "allocated" $120 billion. As of Sept. 30, the government has spent about $120 billion, and it has allocated -- or plans to spend -- $174 billion. The tab should run as high as $200 billion in the next year once other expected supplemental spending is added.
This is not a distortion by Kerry. It would be dishonest to calculate the cost of the war without including all current obligations.
Edwards asserted that "in the last four years, 1.6 million private-sector jobs have been lost." The actual number is close to 900,000 and will likely shrink further when Friday's jobs reports is released, though Bush is the first president in 72 years to preside over an overall job loss.
The Post is simply wrong here. According to the BLS, private employment in January 2001 was 111,560,000. As of the end of August, it is 109,910,000. That is 1,650,000 fewer jobs. The Post did not pay attention to Edwards' "private sector" - government employment has grown by 700,000 since Bush took office. [go here and click the first box for the data]
See also Exegesis, which has a very nice fact check.
Cheney's best moments: Thanking Edwards for the comments re: his family; talking about his personal history. He almost came off as human.
Cheney's worst moment: Not thanking John Edwards in his closing remark. His pointed refusal to thank Edwards proves he ain't human, but scum. Whom among us does not detest scum?
Edwards' best moment: His discussion of Cheney's voting record. It was entirely fair, yet caught Cheney completely off guard. Cheney said nothing about it.
Edwards' worst moment: He fumbled the Dan Quayle, "why are you qualified" question. This is a slam dunk for Edwards, he has more experience than George W. Bush did when running for President; the "experience doesn't mean shit if it's a record of failure" meme is a good one, though.
Iraq. If one believes the blatant lies coming out of Cheney's mouth, this was a draw. If the media drops the ball, failing to dissect just how misleading his statements were (which they probably will) - i.e., in a worst case scenario - Edwards still stayed on message and drove home that the world deserves honesty.
Global Test. Edwards did a great job on this "issue," pointing out what a tremendous distortion it is. It will be an interesting case study to see if the campaignistration is truly shameless, and continues to use the argument after being shot down. John Stewart also had a nice piece on this, though I'm partial to mine.
Kerry's Record. The Scarboroughs and Kristols were spinning afterward, claiming Cheney crushed Edwards on questions about Kerry's record. Why the fuck can't George W. Bush make these arguments to Kerry's face? It is shameful that George W. Bush has to outsource his attacks on his opponent to his Vice President, when last I checked, Bush gets to talk debate Kerry for 270 minutes. Edwards wanted to talk about Cheney's record and the record of Cheney's government - Cheney would have none of it. Chickenshit Bush, Chickenshit Cheney.
Health Care. More of the same from Cheney, blather about med mal. No new ideas, and no old ideas that might work. Edwards talked about real changes that can head off real issues. The two questions about AIDS were interesting, but kind of weird given the general agreement by the debaters, and the time constraints. Why no direct question about health care, why no questions about the environment, or energy issues?
Jobs. Edwards' restating the question was nicely done, highlighting the extent of Cheney's evasion. Focusing on Cleveland was almost a Clintonian touch, nicely done.
Education. I can't believe that Cheney called Edwards' position on NCLB a flip flop - not more than 45 seconds prior to Cheney's distortion had Edwards criticized the administration for not funding NCLB. He's not opposed to it; he is opposed to its partial implementation. The American people aren't stupid, they will see through this.
Republican Governor's Association Should Give Scanlon's Money Back
Mike Scanlon, the Delay-spokesperson-turned-lobbyist who stole $66 million from Native American tribes, is going to be resubpoenaed by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, according to Roll Call.
Because Scanlon avoided receiving the subpoena to testify, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), the panel's chairman, said that another, more open-ended subpoena would need to be drafted. Refusal to comply with that document, Campbell added, would lead to immediate contempt of Congress charges.
"He just dodged. I don't care what his lawyers say," Campbell said in an interview of the failed attempts to deliver the subpoena last week. [Paul Kane, Roll Call, 10/4/04]
Scanlon gave $500,000 to the Republican Governor's Association, a 527 founded to reelect Republican governors. It's only appropriate that the Republican Governor's Association give that money back to the Tribes.
Mike Scanlon, a former House Republican aide now under Senate investigation for allegedly charging excessive fees to American Indian tribes, gave $500,000 to the Republican Governors Association in late 2002, according to a new campaign finance report.
The contribution from the former spokesman to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) made him the top contributor to the Republican Governors Association during the 2001-02 election cycle, when 36 of 50 state governors were up for re-election. [Brody Mullins, Roll Call, 5/4/04]
This donation is being investigated, but isn't the return of the money an essential first step? Read more about this outrage in the transcripts from last week's hearing here.
Details on "Horse-Trading," aka Bribery and Extortion
The Hill provides a run down of the various threats and inducements offered to Nick Smith during last year's Medicare vote. Things like:
During the vote, Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) approached Smith. According to Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), “[Miller] came up and said, ‘You are really going to do this Nick? And he said yeah. … She got mad and she said, ‘Well, I’m going to do all I can to beat your son.’ And then they kind of swore at each other a little bit. It was not pleasant. And then she left.”
Roe also said Smith called him from Michigan later that day and told him that Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) offered to help Smith’s daughter find a job as an actress in Hollywood. Dreier denied making such an offer, and Smith did not recall the phone conversation.
There's some clear perjury going on here, either by Jason Roe, chief of staff to Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), or Dreier.
Moreover, why can't they just call this what it is? I don't see any horses, just a bunch of asses.
"We paid a big price for not stopping [looting] because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," he said yesterday in a speech at an insurance conference in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. "We never had enough troops on the ground."
Yet Bremer still claims to "strongly support" President Bush's reelection. Bush has never acknowledged that there were inadequate troop levels, or that he was taken in by the shady huckster Chalabi, or the naifs in his Department of Defense and OVP. The way I see it, Bremer is then saying one of two things - either it's OK for Bush to continue lying about his poor planning (maybe a Straussian "noble lie?"), or it's OK to support for reelection a President hopelessly out of touch with reality. Bush hasn't learned from his mistakes, no one's been fired or held accountable in any way. How can Bremer ask people to continue dying for a mistake the President won't even admit to?
I suppose there could be an excuse for supporting the reelection of a hopeless naif - Bush won't be able to pursue any of his hapless adventurism because all of his toys have been put on the top shelf, stranded in Iraq in some sort of divine preemptive action against Bush's future follies. If this is Bremer's position, he is hopelessly underestimating Bush's devious creativity.
It was initially useful when Brad DeLong started labeling "shrill" those who finally recognized the nature of the Bush administration. The left tends to focus on arguments to the exclusion of arguers, what is said rather than who said it. Prof. DeLong, and Shrillblog, provide a nice corrective to this occasionally unfortunate habit.
But the exercise has quickly lost much of its utility. First, because so many people are "shrill." It becomes nigh impossible to remember who is shrill and who is still blinkered, who has mustered the intestinal fortitude to confront reality as it is, and who has not. I suppose a searchable database would help, but it needs to be searchable by keyword, subject, and geography. Perhaps the good Professor can apply some of his oft-blogged information management skills to the problem.
Second, and more seriously, because there is no "shrill." "Shrill" as we use it is simply a euphemism for "not yet having been proven to have underestimated the problem." Those who were shrill seven months ago don't look prescient now - they look almost as naive as the rest of us. Human rights groups that were drawing attention to our mistreatment of detainees - do they deserve accolades despite having so badly underestimated the problem? Those warning about voter intimidation - do they deserve accolades for having so badly underestimated the problem? Those warning that Bush was deceptive about the reasons for Iraq and its future prospects - in retrospect, shrill or naive?
Richard Clarke was labeled "shrill" - but his book reads like today's overt Bush administration policy, with the policy subtext much worse. Seymour Hersh was "shrill" for discussing the mismanagement of Syria and the corruption of Perle - run of the mill problems today. Howard Dean was "shrill" for saying that capturing Saddam didn't make us safer - it is now accurate to label Bush a liar for continually asserting the opposite.
At best, "shrill" means "moderately prescient." With this administration, it is not possible to be shrill enough to accurately capture its malice. Even the shrill are incapable of screeching loudly enough.
hilzoy at Obsidian Wings is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. Nonetheless, I can't help but disagree with his valuation of David Brooks; Brooks is always wrong, but always worth reading. Why, one might ask, is it worth reading what is invariably tripe? Because every time he puts his pen to paper he proves the superiority of liberalism.
It is clear - glaringly obvious, even - that Brooks wants to be taken as an intelligent commenter on national affairs. He undertakes the arduous effort of attempting to appear professional and objective, he obviously spends at least a couple of minutes wracking his brain for what he thinks is a clever analogy, he vainly searches for any argument that might justify his visceral conservatism. Yet he fails, time and again, to make anything approaching a convincing argument. It is glorious to read David Brooks, because his pathetic visage is the fate that awaits intelligent people who opt to join the conservative tribe.
Rationality is no longer welcome in the conservative movement. Each and every one of Brooks' failed efforts to make conservativism look superior to liberalism falls flat, because they are necessarily counterfactual. His tools can't perform the task he's set for them.
Reading Brooks, at least I know that I'm in the room with someone who wants to understand what its like to practice a realistic brand of politics. Reading his fellow polemiologists, I get no such satisfaction. Safire, Novak, Will, &c - all capable of pretty words and anachronistic cultural references; none concerned with reality. Brooks can't embrace it, but at least he's concerned about it.
Bush's entire argument in the debate, both on defense and on offense, was that John Kerry is a flip flopper. That argument was put to rest by Kerry's performance, but was never true to begin with.
The San Francisco Chronicle looked at the record and concluded Kerry has a single, consistent position on Iraq. Knight Ridder looked at the record and concluded Kerry has a single, consistent position on Iraq. Now the New York Times looks at the record and concludes Kerry has a single, consistent position on Iraq.
If this argument falls, Bush falls with it. For the next month, we will see the biggest institutional effort to hide the truth from the American people since Bush's run up to the invasion of Iraq.
In last Thursday's 90 minute debate, John Kerry deftly pricked the GOP's $222 million bubble. The GOP wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on inconsistent, incoherent, unreal slurs in a futile effort to make Kerry look like a weak, waffling Francophile. Kerry demonstrated the duplicity of the GOP strategy, highlighting Bush's consistent and unacknowledged pattern of failure, Bush's obscene inability to defend his own positions, and Kerry's realistic evaluation of the world and concrete plan to do better.
The GOP is panicking, as they should be. Having had its strategy's weaknesses laid bare in front of 62.5 million viewers, the Bush campaign did the same thing his administration does when confronted with evidence of failed strategy: a 360 degree about face. Having seen that its initial strategy was fatally flawed, the Bush campaign trashed it and adopted a new one. Based on inconsistent, incoherent, and unreal slurs.
Bush called it the "Kerry doctrine" and summed it up this way: "He said that America has to pass a global test before we can use troops to defend ourselves." The friendly crowd responded with boos for Kerry.
"Senator Kerry's approach to foreign policy would give foreign governments veto power over our national security decisions," he said. [MSNBC 10/3/04]
Will Saletan puts it best: Bush's comments are more evidence of his precarious relationship with reality. No one who watched that debate or read Kerry's words should believe Bush's distortions. Some will, in an effort to relieve the painful dissonance of a President lying to the people, the sort of dissonance that creates people like the Swift Boat veterans. But even those people will eventually have to withdraw their heads from the sand.
Kerry and the DNC have responded forcefully, with actual facts and an effective ad. Their argument: Kerry explicitly, repeatedly, reaffirmed the right of the United States to preemptively defend itself. After any preemptive action, the US must be able to explain to the world and to us, its citizens, why the action was necessary. We need credibility and honesty. After opening the debate by noting that he'd "never give a veto to any country over our security," Kerry had this exchange:
LEHRER: New question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry. What is your position on the whole concept of preemptive war?
KERRY: The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.
No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.
But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.
Here we have our own secretary of state who has had to apologize to the world for the presentation he made to the United Nations.
I mean, we can remember when President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis sent his secretary of state to Paris to meet with DeGaulle. And in the middle of the discussion, to tell them about the missiles in Cuba, he said, "Here, let me show you the photos." And DeGaulle waved them off and said, "No, no, no, no. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."
How many leaders in the world today would respond to us, as a result of what we've done, in that way? So what is at test here is the credibility of the United States of America and how we lead the world. And Iran and Iraq are now more dangerous -- Iran and North Korea are now more dangerous.
Now, whether preemption is ultimately what has to happen, I don't know yet. But I'll tell you this: As president, I'll never take my eye off that ball. I've been fighting for proliferation the entire time -- anti-proliferation the entire time I've been in the Congress. And we've watched this president actually turn away from some of the treaties that were on the table.
You don't help yourself with other nations when you turn away from the global warming treaty, for instance, or when you refuse to deal at length with the United Nations.
You have to earn that respect. And I think we have a lot of earning back to do.
"It's a misrepresentation of what Kerry said," reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller, "but it gave Mr. Bush a chance to score points - even two days after the debate.
This observation isn't worth a post to itself: Bush is crossing the country ridiculing the French, people whose support we are trying to win. At the same time, he is accusing Kerry of alienating allies with his rhetoric. Rice's rationalization:
National security advisor Condoleezza Rice denied Sunday that Bush was holding France up to ridicule for saying in a campaign speech that Kerry would let ''countries like France'' decide when to use American force.
Bush's audience in Allentown, Pa., booed at the mention of France.
''There's no ridicule here. It's a statement of fact: The French didn't agree,'' Rice said on CNN's Late Edition.