Did we learn our lessons?
In August, anticipating the one-year anniversary of the worst-ever attack on America, the news media featured nearly wall-to-wall stories on terrorism and its aftermath.
Finger-pointing was inescapable. In New York, a major study commissioned by the city concluded that old turf battles between the police and fire departments may have resulted in unnecessary loss of life.
Often, the finger-pointing was accompanied by grumbling. Local police officials across the country accused the FBI of hoarding information such as background checks that could help them increase security in their hometowns. Things were no better in the air. Amid reports that scores of sky marshals had quit because of poor working conditions, a group of disgruntled marshals threatened a class-action suit against the government.
President Bush spent much of August away from Washington, but that didn't mean he was relaxing at his ranch near Crawford, Texas. In the first major hint of TeamBush's campaign strategy, the president made frequent forays from the ranch to raise money and enthusiasm for Republican candidates across the country. Democrats complained about the record amounts of campaign cash Mr. Bush was pulling in, but they seemed unconcerned with his repeated attacks on the do-nothing Senate. That was an attitude they would soon regret.
Not all of the president's trips resulted in a polling "bump" for his chosen candidates, however. Faced with an anti-corporate backlash in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom collapses, Mr. Bush seemed uneasy campaigning for Bill Simon, the GOP's gubernatorial nominee in California. Though he raised plenty of cash for the struggling campaign, the president didn't even mention Mr. Simon by name during two public events in the state. At issue: a $78 million judgment against the Simons' investment company that threatened Mr. Bush's image as a fraud buster. The judgment was later overturned, but the damage was done. Mr. Bush would continue with a record-breaking campaign schedule, but California was not in his travel plans, and Republicans would lose badly in November.