The stock market, which flat-lined over the decade, had to surge 50 percent in 2009 to retrieve the worst losses since the Depression.
Everyone, it seems, except for Washington bureaucrats and Wall Street, for whom the bonuses never seem to stop, has been hammered by the sinking home values and shrinking portfolios.
After Sept. 11, the nation was united behind a president as it had not been since Pearl Harbor. But instead of focusing on the enemies who did this to us, we took Osama bin Laden's bait and plunged into a war in Iraq that bled and divided us, alienated Europe and the Arab world, and destroyed the Republican Party's reputation as the reliable custodian of national security and foreign policy.
The party paid -- with the loss of both houses in 2006 and the presidency in 2008 -- but the nation has not stopped paying.
With nearly 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and another 30,000 more on the way, al-Qaida is now in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa, while the huge U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq serves as its recruiting poster.
Again, it is not a malevolent fate that has done this to us. We did it to ourselves. We believed all that hubristic blather about our being the "greatest empire since Rome," the "indispensable nation" and "unipolar power" advancing to "benevolent global hegemony" in a series of "cakewalk" wars to "end tyranny in our world."
After a decade of self-delusion and self-indulgence, we must stop deceiving ourselves. As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, the "can-do" nation that won World War II in Europe and the Pacific in less than four years, that put a man on the moon in the same decade JFK said we would, is history.
We have a government that cannot balance its books, defend its borders or win its wars. And what is it now doing? Drafting another entitlement program as we are informed that the Social Security and Medicare trust funds have unfunded liabilities in the trillions.
At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the question is not whether we will preside over the creation of a New World Order, but whether America's decline is irreversible.
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