Sunday columnist Frank Rich did so in ludicrous fashion  while nominating Tiger Woods' controversy as the event of the decade. Or maybe it was the Enron scandal that has more resonance than 9-11. (Liberal columnist colleague Paul Krugman made the same ridiculous assertion  in 2002.)
We've rarely questioned our assumption that 9/11, "the day that changed everything," was the decade's defining event. But in retrospect it may not have been. A con like Tiger's may be more typical of our time than a , however devastating.
Indeed, if we go back to late 2001, the most revealing news story may have been unfolding not in New York but Houston - the site of the Enron scandal. That energy company convinced financial titans, the press and countless investors that it was a business deity. It did so even though very few of its worshipers knew what its business was. Enron is the template for the decade of successful ruses that followed, Tiger's included.
This being Rich, he had no shame in making an esoteric pirouette from 9-11 to Tiger to Enron to WMD:
As cons go, Woods's fraudulent image as an immaculate exemplar of superhuman steeliness is benign. His fall will damage his family, closest friends, Accenture and the golf industry much more than the rest of us. But the syndrome it epitomizes is not harmless. We keep being fooled by leaders in all sectors of American life, over and over. A decade that began with the "reality" television craze exemplified by "American Idol" and "Survivor" - both blissfully devoid of any reality whatsoever - spiraled into a wholesale flight from truth.
The most lethal example, of course, were the two illusions marketed to us on the way to Iraq - that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and some link to Al Qaeda.