Remembering September 2001 is sort of odd. The thing was, I was openly contemptuous of the president at the time. I hadn't voted for him, and didn't like him all that much. I thought he was small, and unworthy, and an embarrassment. He was going to be a nobody, another Ford. His response to the attacks made him. Our collective response to the attacks made a lot of little people hate him. Some clung to the president and to the flag in hysterics, producing embarrassing spectacles which made them look like fools in later years when they turned on him. I wonder whether Andrew Sullivan wishes for a memory hole, or is he big enough of an Orwell fan to recognize that bit of hypocrisy? Others immediately began constructing conspiracy theories, and thus are incapable of embarrassment.
I don't know, at the time, I just hoped that the idiot in the Oval Office wouldn't make things too much worse. I had little faith that any real recovery was in the offing. It seemed like the end of the American Century.
But he put our remaining weight into the problem. He set Rumsfeld into the field, and the watch-word was "lean forward". Instead of Imperial Chaos Trumphant, the response to the attacks smothered a lot of long-smouldering brushfires. There were fewer wars, fewer deaths, but we were involved in more of them. Prosperity returned for a brief, if, in retrospect, rather false, flowering. I had hopes in the spring year of 2005 that all might be right with the world, that we were on the long upward slope of "the Long Now".
No, it didn't last. First the democracy bubble burst, then the economic bubble. Nowadays, I just worry that all of his efforts only delayed that end a few years, that despite everything, the decline was only postponed.
Would disaster make anything of the current president? Does he have any hidden depths?
I hope we don't find out.