Liberals hoped, as Packer wrote, that 9/11 would bring “one of the great transformations in the country’s history.” This is a curious statement from someone who edited two books of Orwell essays. Maybe Packer thought we’d all be wearing National Service patches on our sleeves by now. He laments the lack of “consensus”: Americans continue, annoyingly, to hold a variety of political opinions and freely to debate them.

To some it is infuriating that Bush was right. In part because he declined to use his popularity (at a time when his approval ratings hit 92%) to make 9/11 a pretext for reforming America, life did go on mostly as normal.

Sometimes doing nothing constitutes a major accomplishment.