Help me with this, if you don't mind.
In the weeks and months after Sept. 11, the federal government issued a seemingly endless stream of terrorism alerts, warning that something bad might happen sometime soon someplace in America. How did you respond? Did you change your daily routine? Did you avoid the mall? Did you take off from work or keep the kids out of school?
Or did you just go about your business — resolved, perhaps, to be vigilant, but resigned to the fact that, in the absence of more specific information, there wasn't much else you could do? And if that's the case, as I suspect it is, then can somebody explain to me the mob that gathered with pitchforks and torches on the White House lawn last week?
I mean, I enjoy tarring and feathering a chief executive as much as the next guy, but I can't fathom the flap that has sprung up over revelations about a briefing President Bush received before Sept. 11. We learned last week that the president was told in August that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network was planning an attack against the United States and that it might involve hijacking an airliner. The classified CIA briefing did not, according to the White House, contain any information more exact than that — certainly nothing that might lead to the conclusion that an atrocity such as the one that happened a month later was in the offing. Based on that, it's difficult to imagine what Bush might have done differently.