Playing The French Card

Steven den Beste weighs in today with a long-view look at the Bush strategery (sorry, couldn’t resist) for the fall campaign. Among many other things, he says,

I don’t know exactly when the Republican campaign will finally get serious. It doesn’t seem likely they’ll wait until October, so my best guess is it will be in September some time.

And I am pretty confident that when they do really get serious, the consequences for the Kerry campaign will be catastrophic. After the November election, a lot of people are going to wonder why it was that anyone ever thought that Kerry had a substantial chance of winning.

Now, den Beste doesn’t say stuff like that unless he’s reasonably convinced that he’s right. He goes on to lay out some of the issues which he believes will lead to a rather crushing Bush victory in November, among them:

Kerry has made a lot of nebulous pie-in-the-sky statements about involving NATO (and “traditional allies”) in Iraq and in the larger “War on Terror”. Recently Bush went to NATO and asked for help in Iraq, and he got rebuffed.

Bush went to NATO after the transfer of sovereignty to the new provisional Iraqi government. “Traditional Allies” in Europe (i.e. France) had previously said they would be willing to help in Iraq, but only if asked by a sovereign Iraqi government. But when both the US government and a sovereign Iraqi government did directly request NATO assistance, they (the “traditional allies”) still said “Non!”

As it turns out, NATO assistance would have been useful at the time it was requested, but it wasn’t really vital. The majority of NATO members are already helping out, and as the Iraqis themselves take more responsibility for their own internal security, there will be less need for foreign troops. Bush was publicly rebuffed, but that harmed NATO’s reputation more than Bush’s reputation.

When the Republicans finally start campaigning seriously, if Kerry continues to talk about NATO involvement, the Republicans will be able to respond by saying that Bush tried to involve NATO, and certain hostile nations within NATO blocked any NATO involvement.

If Bush and his political apparatus aren’t thinking along these same lines, they should be. There is eminently fertile ground to be exploited in Kerry’s Franco- and UN-philia among the vast majority of the American electorate, and I don’t think Kerry and his people realize their peril, even at this late date.

It’s clear from Kerry’s campaign statements that he regards agreement with the UN and France as indispensable elements of American foreign policy. For whatever reasons, this stance appears to be of near-religious importance to a fair chunk of the country’s liberal elites, from the press corps to the faculties to the entrenched foreign policy bureaucracies. “It’s so terrible! I was in Paris last week, and everyone there hates us! Well, Bush, anyway.”

What Kerry is likely to learn, to his dismay, is that no such consensus exists among the general electorate–quite the opposite, judging by both opinion polling and the recent grass-roots boycott of French products.

There is so much potential here for gain on the Bush side, I hardly believe that Karl Rove and his people aren’t aware of their good fortune. More likely, they’re playing Kerry for a sucker, in much the same way that they snookered Tom Daschle in the summer of 2002; waiting, not responding to attacks, letting him crawl out on a limb, and then sawing it off behind him: “Oh, you want to have a vote on going to war? Okay! Now, how exactly are you going to vote on that again?”

Daschle and his troops had no answer acceptable outside of their peacenik base, and they never recovered. Against all expectations, the Democrats lost two net Senate seats in an off-year election. Daschle himself is now a shadow of his previous national prominence, and may well lose his own seat in November.

I think the GOP has laid a very similar trap for Kerry, and French John has blundered right into it. Picture Bush’s debate response after Kerry ladles out another pompous tirade about ‘repairing relations with the rest of the world.’

“Senator, you want us to go to the UN for ‘legitimacy.’ But that’s the same corrupt UN that let Saddam Hussein steal ten billion dollars that was supposed to buy food and medicine for the Iraqi people. Some of that money is being used to attack our troops and innocent Iraqis right now. This is the same UN that wants our allies in Israel to tear down their defenses against terrorism.

“You also say we need to have France along before we take any action in the war on terror. But that’s the same France that armed and helped Saddam Hussein for decades. That’s the same France that signed sweetheart oil deals with Saddam Hussein, and tried to keep him in power to protect them. That’s the same France that built him a nuclear reactor which could have produced atomic bombs.

“That’s the same France that refused to help the free government of Afghanistan when they pleaded for security help with their elections. They stood in the way of their own NATO allies in helping Mr. Karzai and his people, for no good reason whatsoever.

“You’re saying you want the United States to base its foreign and defense policy decisions around making these people happy. Are you crazy?”

UPDATE: A prime example of what I’m talking about here, from self-described “liberal hawk” Jeff Jarvis:

Are we more isolated in the world? Sure, we are. Some are trying to kill us, others say they hate us, others won’t support us. And what is — and what should be — the American reponse? F’ em. Or at least that’s my response.

I will bet you my dog that there are a hell of a lot more Americans who say “F’ em,” as opposed to, “that’s terrible!” when they hear that the French ‘hate us.’


38 Responses to “Playing The French Card”

  1. The Kid Says:

    I agree. If the French hate us, F*** ’em. That’s their problem. We don’t need those cheese-eating surrender monkeys anyway.

  2. Darwin Finch Says:


    There’s no way this election will be won/lost on a NATO participation dispute. What are you smokin?, drinkin? Also, you can’t compare this to Daschle as that was before the media onslaught against Bush, which will only escalate.

    The election will be won by Bush only if people feel good about Iraq, and good about the economy. This is their challenge and it’s all uphill.

  3. Ed Says:

    Fall Previews

    No, not fashion or TV. The brilliant Steve Den Beste has an amazing piece of writing on what’s to come in the run-up this fall to the election. It’s a definite RTWT. Update: Will Collier has some thoughts on Den…

  4. HoosierDave Says:

    I have been waiting for what seems like an eternity for someone in the administration to come out and say just this. I’ve been waiting even longer for someone to explain to me why we should give a s**t what they think of us. Aren’t we supposed to take care of our national interests first and all others be damned? I understand that we need consensus on certain matters involving the donor community, but when it comes to security, we shouldn’t listen to anyone who doesn’t take our national security as seriously as we do.

  5. MarkD Says:

    I agree with all of that, though I do question the wisdom of waiting. I think it would be better to do this sort of thing sooner rather than later. The media is spinning ridiculous non-story after story to do the most harm to Bush and the most help to Kerry and Bush is just sitting there taking it. The longer they wait and let Kerry get momentum, the harder it would be to stop. If they’d been executing the strategy Den Beste outlined three months ago, Kerry would already be looking like Mondale. If they wait too long, it may be too late.

  6. Sandy P Says:

    We’ve been pissing them off for 225+++ years and I see no reason to stop now.

    Lileks said it before, why should we care what a french waiter thinks of us?

    We showed them the way 225 years ago and all they got was the Reign of Terror.(stolen from a poster long ago from some blog.)

  7. Mike M Says:

    The fact that Kerry has been unable to gather any momentum despite Bush’s relaxed campaign and the all-out liberal media war against him is very bad news. Kerry isn’t changing minds or winning voters, and is doing little to nothing to reach out to non-liberals.

    I think the debates will seal Kerry’s fate. The differences between legislator and executive show through quite strongly, and Bush has always been a master in small group communication. Kerry’s professorial tone and vulnerability on flip-flops will doom him with no one able to soft-focus the delivery.

    With the economy improving and attention shifting to Iran, Kerry has no prayer of winning on negativity or anti-incumbent sentiment alone. If Kerry hasn’t built a lead before Bush moves in earnest, the election may be over as soon as September.

    Remember who the master of rope-a-dope is.

  8. Glendon Says:

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. God Bless French Women. Well, at least my French girl.

  9. geoffg Says:

    Well. the 911 Commission Report is out…pretty much non-partison. Kerry says he will adopt the recommendations. Bush will be adopting the recommendations. Why should the administration waste their bullets, when the dems are shooting blanks (including the MSM), or shooting themselves?

    After the dem convention, which will be hysterical (using the term intentionally) compared to the rep convention, the administration can sart dismantling the democrats.

    I have to agree with that it appears ever gloomier for the dems.

  10. geoffg Says:

    Sorry, “start” dismantling. Preview is my friend.

  11. John Climacus Says:

    Approval of “International community”+Sudan+Rwanda=pile o’ crap

  12. Luke Says:

    Although I don’t like it any more than you all seem to, the international community must be involved if the war on terror is to succeed. As much as you seem to despise the French and other Western Europeans, they are the only ones who will be able to stem the rising tide of Islamic Totalitarianism that threatens Europe. Giving the terrorists another base of support (Muslims are Western Europe’s fastest growing minority) would only weaken our ability to effectively pursue the policies necessary for our safety.

  13. erp Says:

    I’ve been saying this for over a year now. If Bush is beatable, then Hillary will be the nominee. If he isn’t, what difference does it make who goes down in flames.

    This next week will be very entertaining.

  14. Dave Says:

    I will bet you my dog that there are a hell of a lot more Americans who say “F’ em,” as opposed to, “that’s terrible!” when they hear that the French ‘hate us.’


  15. ableiter Says:

    Don’t forget Bush’s secret weapon; Hillery Clinton. If Kerry wins, there goes her ’08 bid. Count on Hillry de’Bitch putting a stick in Kerry’s spokes if it looks like he is ahead in October.

  16. rosignol Says:

    Although I don’t like it any more than you all seem to, the international community must be involved if the war on terror is to succeed.

    …with minimum casualties on the other side.

    IMO, our european ‘allies’ should be more concerned about this than us. Personally, I’m very happy that we’re trying the less messy way first… but our ‘allies’ should remember that it is far from being our only option, and that it is even more in their interest for the less messy way to succeed than it is for us.

  17. ic Says:

    “… the international community must be involved if the war on terror is to succeed.” They are involved. They have been catching terrorists. They know it’s their problem as much as ours. Nations cooperate out of self-interest. The French sided with Saddam because of their exclusive oil-deals with Saddam, and Bush refused to recognize those deals in return for their support.

  18. John F. Opie Says:

    Hi –

    That Kerry is a UN- and Francophile is pretty well known; but did you know that he also has at least one European working for his campaign as well? The press speaker for the Austrian Green party is working for Kerry in New York: her name is Heike Warmuth. She’s in his political team, working on organizing meet-ups and similiar functions. She says that he is happy to have her on his team.

    I wonder how many other non-Americans are working for the Kerry campaign?

    This is based on an article in the Austrian newspapar “Der Standard” from 22 July 2004. No web link, unfortunately – is notorious for hiding links – but I’ve got the original.

  19. Says:

    Previewing The Fall Election

    Steven den Beste has a long-view look at the Bush strategy including:

    “I don’t know exactly when the Republican campaign will finally get serious. It doesn’t seem likely they’ll wait until October, so my best guess is it will be in September some

  20. Don Says:

    I respectfully disagree with you, Mr. Collier. George of Arabia is going out of his way to antagonize social conservatives, not to mention gun owners, which form a lot of his base. Look at the scheduled speakers at the GOP convention. “Dogs and Conservatives Not Welcome” is the message, as Shrub tries to show his progressiveness.
    Add to that the continuing lack of well paying jobs(the vaunted job growth lies in fast food staffing) and a lot of us are either going to vote Kerry or not vote for president at all.
    For those of us who’s technical and professional employment has gone to Mexico or India, voting for Bush is not an option. We’ll endure Kerry for 4 years, and hopefully the GOP will come back to its conservative roots with a vengeance.

  21. triticale Says:

    How does one vaunt a job? The ads which companies are paying the radio stations in the Milwaukee area to run, the ones for factory jobs in the $12 to $18 range and for truck drivers to make $32,000 in their first year? How can we get those jobs vaunted (and filled, for that matter)?

  22. Undertoad Says:

    This is such wishful thinking on the part of denBeste and everyone. The public can scarecely SPELL “NATO”, much less comprehend its post-war posturing. The public has long ago lost its resolve and its interest in overseas affairs.

    Half the people don’t believe the war on terror even persists. This is a leadership failure.

    If it was politically motivated, to slowly fail until September or October, the public may well see it as political. They may well be right.

  23. Good Ole Charlie Says:


    Conservatism was tried by GOP in 1964. For all you young folk out there, the 1964 election was a laugher. Even normally Republican states went Democratic. We got LBJ and a botch job in Vietnam: Lyndon went kissy-kissy: too much afraid of being disliked to do anything decisive. We all know the rest.

    It was the Democrats turn in 1972. The nomination went to Georgie McGovern. Dick Nixon won in a landslide even bigger, IIRC, than LBJ. Demo still haven’t recovered their sanity since then, plus Watergate as a bonus.

    Don: so you want to Return To Old Time Religon? I think you ought to read and contemplate some history first…

    Cheers, y’all

  24. Dean Says:

    On the presumption that “Don” is not a Moby-acolyte:

    1. We’re coming out of a recession. What are the first jobs to be created after a recession, high-paying ones, or low-paying ones?

    2. What in the world makes you think that Kerry can stop jobs going to Mexico, India, Indonesia, or China?

    3. You claim to be a conservative. IF Kerry were to be able to accomplish “2”, what kinds of steps would that take? Would those be the kinds of steps that made government bigger or smaller? Are they the kinds of steps that would involve more or less governmental role in the economy?

    Are you betting a two-parter? Kerry will somehow staunch the job flow by expanding government, so the GOP will then push for a smaller government and win next time ’round? Won’t that result in renewed job flow outta the country?

    Think that one through….

  25. Sam Says:

    And Don, do you think the GOP will do well with the American center if it gets back to its conservative roots (which seem to be social conservatism and economic protectionism?)?

    You will never have a president who you think is perfect – and if you think social and economic pet peeves outweigh 4 years of someone like Kerry during the most important (and volatile) period in American foreign policy in the past quarter century, then go ahead and let him win.

    Or would it perhaps be more prudent to endure Shrub instead of Kerry, and pick a good GOP candidate to run in 2004?

  26. Badger Says:


    You wrote, “Add to that the continuing lack of well paying jobs(the vaunted job growth lies in fast food staffing) and a lot of us are either going to vote Kerry or not vote for president at all.”

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your data from, but you might want to reconsider after perusing this:

  27. Pat Henry Says:


    I loathe the French. I do not drink their wine. I do not eat at their restaurants. The only time I think of France is when a Texas wins a cycling tour. Otherwise, I do not think of France.

    Pat Henry

  28. Jim in Va Says:

    Kerry was on NBC news last night(interview with Brokaw),he suggested the way to handle Iran’s nuclear ambitions is to offer to build power plants for them as well as take the nuclear waste. (We’d ship and store it in Yucca Mtn, I guess.) Pretty much what we offered North Korea in the 90’s. The idea is ludicrous on so many levels that it is hard to believe he is serious, unless it is the best answer he can come up with.

  29. Dean Says:

    Here’s what Kerry is thinking (my guess):

    1. They don’t REALLY want to build nukes, do they?

    2. How can we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they want to build nukes? By offering them SUCHADEAL that, if they turn it down, it’ll be clear (kinda) that they want to build nukes, which we could then take to the UN and get the French on-board.

    3. If they DO take the deal, then we’ve put off them building a nuke, right?

    Well, of course, they MIGHT play us for a fool, like the NKs did, but THIS TIME, we’ll have inspections ready, like in IRaq and North Korea, which, well, uh, hmmm.

    4. If they DO break the treaty, then we’ll have the right to go to the UN and get them to sign off on going to war, and it won’t be a quagmire.

    Yeah, that’s about right.

  30. Says:

    Previewing The Fall Election

    Steven den Beste has a long-view look at the Bush strategy including:

    “I don’t know exactly when the Republican campaign will finally get serious. It doesn’t seem likely they’ll wait until October, so my best guess is it will be in September some

  31. G.GIlbertson Says:

    I remember reading awhile back that France is like 50% socialist and 25% communist with about 25% being what we would think of as democrats, republicans and others… This might explain why Kerry loves France and why most Americans will ultimately just say, “F’em”

  32. Don Says:

    It’s nice to have a debate. I should say upfront that I loathe the two Johns, but I loathe Shrub even more. I used to be a free trader, but now, I’m with Pitchfork Pat Buchanan on this one. I’m Old Testament on queers, having had some really bad experience with them. I have no problem with what chemicals people put into their bodies, and I support legalizing drugs, including heroin.
    But I don’t see Bush as a conservative. He talks like a conservative(when it suits his purpose), but with a forked tongue. His actions are those of a big spending, PC liberal. Note that excellent bloggers such as Rev. Sensing, and Sgt. Stryker are less than thrilled with him, for different reasons.
    1. Illegal immigration. Shrub and the WSJ want to open the borders and let the Mexitrash in. Note Michelle Malkin’s writings on this subject, although I think that a five mile kill zone would be even better. Forceable removal, and draconian penalties for businesses that employ them(hard prison time, big time fines)
    2. Shrub is unwilling to control the spendaholics, and presided over a huge new entitlement. His veto pen lies neglected and dusty in a drawer, along with his US Constitution for Dummies.
    3. Gun control. I dropped my membership in NRA after they allowed queers to set up at their convention. My father, a 50 year life member did likewise as did several other gun activists. With this caveat, the gun ownership issue is very important to me, and Bush is still pushing for the semi-auto ban. If it wasn’t for Richard Cheney, I think the gun community would just say F***off to Shrub.
    4. Supporting Israel, and the global cop nonsense. I’m absolutely thrilled to see Israel selling technology to the Red Chinese! What next, Sharon selling missile defense tech to Kim-Il-Moron in NK? I am quite tired of the neocons pushing us to fight all of Israel’s enemies. This is not to mention the push for intervening in the Sudan, which has always been a hellhole.
    Read American Conservative magazine, folks for a different perspective. Also, read Robert Novak’s columns for more complaints and criticism of the Moron Who Would be King.
    There’s lots of additional problems with Shrub, such as the TSA, Ashcroft’s pursuit of moon shiners in VA, the Bush daughters, er sluts, cuts in spending for veteran treatment programs, SS nonreform, the list goes on.
    In presidential elections, it comes down to “Are you better off
    than you were 4 years ago?” My answer is no, and I know that I won’t vote for the drunk from Texas. I want a real conservative, and hopefully we’ll get one in 2008. So yes, I’m going to hunker down and endure 4 years of Kerry.
    Dean, I haven’t heard the accronym “moby accolyte,” so I don’t know if I am one.
    Part of the problem is that I live in central NY, and professional opportunites are scarce. I’m looking to get out of NY, but no luck so far. The national and regional recruiters that I use in my search are all disdainful of Shrub. I get a lot of bad Shrub jokes/incidents from them, and the level of contempt for him is on a par with their opinion of Klinton and Hitlery. I’ve been on several interviews where I’ve seen F***Bush screensavers, and not one engineer/designer that I know is planning on voting for Frat Boy.
    The interview that I went on yesterday was nice, but the plant manager I talked with gave me his opinion of both Shrub and our own Gov. George (Sleazy) Pataki. Over two hundred applicants for a lousy rate, boondock location, screwed up company with antiquated software and lots of manual drafting. The manager is aware of the problems and trying to fix them, but he’s financially constrained by the owners, thanks to the high taxes and other problems at local, state and national levels. Thanks, Two Georges for mucking up so badly.

  33. Robby Says:

    Yes, queers can own guns too. Somehow I get the impression that you’re secretly aroused by that. Shame!

    Otherwise I kinda sorta agree with many of your points, but I have to disagree that we could risk 4 years of Kerry to get to a “real conservative.” I think/hope that will happen anyway with 4 more years of Bush, which would also provide the related benefit of making the Democrats contemplate where they have been screwing up too. A Kerry win would just keep the same idiots and their acolytes in power for another election cycle.

    Call me an idealist, but I want TWO–count ’em, TWO–real political parties in this country. Right now we have 2 parties, but neither one of them is selling much that I want to buy.

  34. Jim Russell Says:

    We all have “issues” with W’ya. I could wring his neck for going into Iraq so soon after afghanistan. Now we have problems on both fronts.

    Anyway, there is no excuse for not picking the better of the bunch in the voting booth. I get cold and sweaty just thinking of 4 years with John, John Jr., Edward, Tom, and Nancy running the war against terrorism. And so does every other voter if they are halfway politically informed and completely honest with themselves.

    The white flags will come out and they will take whatever terms they can get to try to stop the violence. They just can’t handle the execution method of our enemy, especially their preservation freezers, i.e., the terror.

  35. Jim Russell Says:

    Correction to previous post: “Edward” in “the bunch” should have read “Teddy”.

  36. Veeshir Says:

    Chris Wallace on Foxnews Sunday yesterday was interviewing some Democrats yesterday. One started on his, ‘we need to repair relationships’ speech and Wallace was pretty good. “How would you do that?”, no answer, just spin. The Dems said something about Nato helping, Wallace didn’t ask about why the French had vetoed NATO involvement last week.
    I can’t wait for the debates. I think these will be very interesting. I also think Kedwards will be beaten in all of them. Cheney against Edwards? Pretty funny. Bush against Kerry? Bush gets a question and answers it, Kerry will give an answer so full of equivocations that you will have no idea what he said.

    Here’s hoping Steven Den Beste is as correct as he usually is.

  37. Don Says:

    Robby, you’re wrong about my getting aroused by queers owning guns. Period. I don’t know you and vice versa.
    But here’s a few more reasons that George is in trouble: phony employment numbers, suggested by John Crudele of the NY Post; lukewarm support of drilling in Alaska; Secretary of Transportation Moron Mineta; not firing Tenet on 9/12/01-he must have something on Shrub; bending over to the house of Saud; DWI conviction, no tort reform, etc.
    Mr. Russell, I believe that the election is not going to turn on foreign policy. Bush is arguably doing a better job ins ome respects, but most voters are more concerned about their wallets, and Bush doesn’t have a clue.
    As one recruiter told me, Bush is outsourcing everything, and Kerry’s taxing everything. Personally, I wished that Pat. buchanan had run again on the isolationist/protectionist ticket.

  38. Jim Russell Says:

    Bush is in trouble if enough voters like you and Robby decide to protest by opting out. I agree with your frustrations with Bush. The reality is it requires compromise to win an election. Compromise is politics, bad as it is.

    Kerry is already wrapping himself in conservative clothing, to the consternation of his core supporters, so he can win this election then fall back to his liberal core. This is what Dems thought Bush did and why they hate him so much.

    This will be a very close election like the last. When all is said and done, your voice(vote)is more valuable to you and our 50/50 divided democracy, than it has every been. Please do you best.

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