Surprise! Surprise!! There have been no official terror alerts to interfere with the much-hyped Bush Bounce following last week's Republican National Convention.

And after waiting through the Labor Day weekend, with trial balloons floating about the long-awaited Osama Surprise, it's easy to see why.

Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge has issued two terror alerts during the presidential campaign. One immediately followed John Kerry's choice of John Edwards as his running mate. The other immediately followed the Democratic National Convention.

The timing could not have been more obvious. Edwards' nomination generated a huge buzz for the Democrats. But the major media instantly turned to the intricacies of Ridge's bizarre, apocalyptic scare scam.

Then came a successful DNC. Again Ridge instantly screamed out breathless tales of a terrorist wolf, while the media slobbered at the door.

Ridge had only stale snippets, with no solid evidence for an imminent attack. There was no attack, and no arrests.

But both times, he negated crucial Democratic momentum. Fox and its cohorts made the lack of a Kerry bounce the one-note theme of their post-convention coverage--while never mentioning the Ridge rants. Mission Accomplished.

In fact, the weeks of the Edwards nomination and DNC were calm by global standards.

But actual terrorism defined the week of the Republican National Convention. Two Russian passenger liners crashed with only one obvious explanation. Then terrorists staged a horrific Russian hostage crisis, leaving at least 300 dead.

Meanwhile, a half-million protestors swarmed into New York. Yet the only terror alert came from the Mayor's office on behalf of the grass in Central Park. Ridge's stark silence was a backhanded confirmation that the American peace movement can be counted on to remain non-violent, even in the face of its most vicious opponent.

It also underscored the double-standard that has made this administration so deeply loathed. With no credible evidence, but for obvious political gain, the Department of Homeland Security twice played cynical games with public terror alerts at the expense of the Democrats.

But with passenger planes being blown out of the sky, hundreds of Russian children held hostage and hordes of protestors descending on New York, nothing could be allowed to disrupt media coverage of the Republicans' Hate Show.

Ridge gave the GOP had an alert-free Labor Day weekend to crow about the post-convention bounce that might have been Kerry's. Team Rove also floated its first notice of an election-timed "capture" of Osama bin Laden. As millions have predicted, after three years the Administration may have miraculously "tracked him down" just in time for the November vote.

So will the next Homeland hyperventilation come when there's an actual threat to the public safety? Or will it happen to coincide with, say, a presidential debate? A Kerry/Edwards bounce? Or a Bush faux pas?

We are all pink with curiosity.

HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is available through He is senior editor of, which has just posted, for free, LEAKED SECRET TRANSCRIPTS FROM BUSH'S OVAL OFFICE, 2002-2004.