Getting the details right is always important even if we are discussing something in the distant past. SELinux was not enabled by default in Fedora Core 2. So the claim that it was a "nightmare" for that release was obviously incorrect. If your experience is only with a test release of Fedora Core 2 then extrapolating it to the GA release or even a later release would be incorrect which I have seen many many users do.
Fedora Core 3 (only about a dozen network facing services and I doubt it presented any major obstacles) and later releases up until Fedora 8 enabled only the targeted policy by default. Strict policy was available in the repository however. In Fedora 9, strict and targeted policy was combined together.
Tools related to policy management were provided right from the beginning including ones to manage SELinux booleans, audit policies etc. I am assuming you are referring to SELinux troubleshooter which is only one among many of the tools provided within Fedora related to SELinux.
system-config-securitylevel and later system-config-selinux was available for desktop users as well.