Feckless as it was for Bush to ask Americans to go shopping after 9/11, we all too enthusiastically followed his lead, whether we were wealthy, working-class or in between. We spent a decade feasting on easy money, don't-pay-as-you-go consumerism and a metastasizing celebrity culture.
Someday we'll learn the whole story of why George W. Bush brushed off that intelligence briefing of Aug. 6, 2001, 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.' But surely a big distraction was the major speech he was readying for delivery on Aug. 9, his first prime-time address to the nation.
Of course most Americans don't know how A.I.G. brought the world's financial system to near-ruin or what credit-default swaps are. They may not even know what A.I.G. stands for. But Americans do make the connection between their fears about their own jobs and their broad understanding of the A.I.G. debacle.