Well, this decade went pretty well, don't you think?
We came into it thinking Y2K was going to be the end of civilization and then spent 10 years proving it just might be.
The horror of 9/11. Two significant wars. Economic meltdown. Dangerously declining faith in our leaders and institutions, including a proclivity toward disliking the presidents we elect.
"Barack Obama has won a place in history with the worst ratings of any president at the end of his first year; 49 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove of his job performance in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll," Karl Rove wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal.
Rove's right ... far right (rim shot). By comparison, George W. Bush, fueled by the post-9/11, rally-round-the-flag effect, ended his first year in office with an 86 percent approval rating. It slipped a smidgen - down to 34 percent - by the time he left office.
The Gallup pollsters, nosy busybodies that they are, also tell us that at the start of 2000, a solid 69 percent of Americans were satisfied with the nation's direction. The decade ends with only 25 percent of Americans telling Gallup they are satisfied with the nation's direction.
I'm surprised that 25 percent think our nation has a direction.
It's hard to make a case for anything other than the first decade of the 21st century being a disaster, with the only possible upside being a not-so-delicate nudge toward being more appreciative of that which we once took for granted and a beefed-up notion of change coming from what people - not governments - do.
It's the sort of mid-course correction we seem to need periodically. If you look at it that way, then maybe this decade can be a positive. Seems like the kind of thing that depends on whether you see the glass as half-full or you are half-loaded.
Yeah, it's been a heck of a decade. Anybody going to miss it? The Roaring '20s roared, and the Gay '90s did whatever a gay decade does. An appropriate name for the 2000s? I'm OK with "The Big Nothings" as a monicker it lived up to.
(Disclaimer: I know that today is not the beginning of a new decade. That will occur one year from today. The decade started in 2001, not 2000. That is because the first year was 1, not 0. I fought this battle here at the newspaper in 1999 but failed miserably in trying to educate people to the fact that the 21st century started in 2001, not 2000. I'm not fighting that battle again. And nobody is going to read a decade-ender column on Dec. 31, 2010. And please don't call the new year oh-10. It was OK to say oh-8 and oh-9, but do not say oh-10. It bothers me.)
The decade started amid such optimism. Here's part of what then-President Bill Clinton told us on the morning of Jan. 1, 2000 (just before you watched Texas lose 27-6 to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, a harbinger of the bad decade to come):
"Seldom in our history, and never in my lifetime, has our nation enjoyed such a combination of widespread economic success, social solidarity and national self-confidence, without an internal crisis or an overarching external threat. Never has the openness and dynamism of our society been more emulated by other countries. Never have our values, the freedom, democracy and opportunity been more ascendant in the world."
It's a reminder about how quickly things can change. Perhaps that is the most optimistic note on which to enter the next 10 years.
You and I know it's a year early to say this, but happy new decade to all.