Final Thoughts On Campaign 2000

bob schieffer CBS

As the new year turned, I wondered what had was on my mind a year ago, so I looked up some of the stories I wrote back then. Mostly, they were about the long and strange presidential campaign.

What I didn't write about was foreign policy, and I certainly didn't write about terrorism. After all, it was a campaign year. And during presidential campaigns, we tell foreign policy to go sit in the corner and be quiet so we can all concentrate on issues that, quote, "touch people's lives"--or that's what we tell ourselves.

Frankly, I have a hard time remembering now what we talked about during campaign 2000. I remember John McCain was talking about campaign reform early on, but then he left.

George Bush talked about reform with results, and Al Gore kept talking about that lockbox.

And there were competing plans about how we would spend that big surplus. Remember the big surplus?

In the press, we talked about candidates staying on message, but we didn't pay much attention to what the message was.

Sure, the campaign was about who could raise the most money, but that's old news.

What I find so striking a year later is just how irrelevant all of it was. Virtually, nothing said in campaign 2000 was a predictor or a precursor of what would happen in 2001, nor did anything in that campaign really prepare us, or the new president, for what he would have to deal with.

Campaign 2000 did its primary job. It produced a new president, if just barely. But the rest of it was pretty much a waste. That's the fault of both parties and the press.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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