A Decade’s Difference

A rhetorical return to the days before 9/11 changed everything.

There's an interesting twist to this year's presidential campaign: A former federal employee is running for president. But for a long time, most people were unaware of that fact because the candidate, Michele Bachmann, didn't exactly trumpet her experience.

Bachmann's official bio says she "spent five years as a federal tax litigation attorney, working on hundreds of civil and criminal cases. That experience solidified her strong support for efforts to simplify the tax code and reduce tax burdens on family and small business budgets." What the bio doesn't say explicitly was that Bachmann's tax work was at the Internal Revenue Service. After getting a master's of law in taxation in 1988, Bachmann spent four years as a lawyer at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel in St. Paul, Minn.

After Bachmann's government service began drawing attention, she put her own spin on it. "I went to work in that system because the first rule of war is: Know your enemy," she said at an August campaign appearance in South Carolina. "So I went to the inside to learn how they work because I want to defeat them."

In a way, Bachmann's rhetoric is a measure of how much things have changed in the 10 years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In the initial aftermath of the attacks, public support for government shot up dramatically. Flags flew everywhere. Large-scale operations like airport security were federalized. Everyone knew who the "enemy" was, and it wasn't a government agency.

But as Charlie Clark notes in this month's cover story, in the following years, the structure and operations of the federal government changed dramatically-in fits and starts, with mixed success. As a result, the political climate changed, too, and in time, it again became acceptable to identify government as the problem rather than the solution.

Speaking of changes, this issue marks a shift for Government Executive. It will be the last to feature the current design of the magazine, which dates from 2004. We figured it was time for an upgrade to our look that reflects our renewed commitment to serving federal leaders. The new design will debut with next month's issue.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.