It was subtle but palpable–a sense of relief this past holiday weekend that was hard to pin down. It wasn’t only the quenching showers or the surreal scene of orange leaves in mid-air all at once, loosened when the clouds opened up at last. It wasn’t just the luxury of a four-day respite (for some, anyway) or the uncomplicated pleasure of a holiday that’s only about friends and family and food. Then it struck me: For the first time in five years, there was a sense that the Bush monolith was crumbling and all the illusions that were so transparent to many–and so invisible to others–were finally disappearing. Maybe this war could end soon after all, and maybe the administration’s self-serving social and fiscal policies could be beaten back.

There was the ironclad indictment of Scooter Libby for lying to cover up the role the vice president’s office played in outing a CIA operative whose diplomat-husband dared tell the truth about the administration’s lies. That brought us within a hair’s breadth of confirming our earliest suspicions–that the Bush-Cheney-Rice-Wolfowitz-Rumsfeld New American Century team and their White House Iraq Group would do or say anything to get their way–or go to war. And special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald isn’t done yet.

There was the deluge of guilty pleas and indictments of Republican leaders and lobbyists, with U.S. Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.) acknowledging this week, “… I publicly declared my innocence because I was not strong enough to face the truth.” The investigation of mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff continues, and legislators No. 1, 2 , 3 and 4 (as they’re called) and more are waiting for the other gumshoe to drop. At least they won’t end up like Gus Boulis, the owner of a gambling ship bought by Abramoff who was later killed in a mob-style hit.

There were U.S. Rep. John Murtha’s brave words about the administration’s “flawed policy wrapped in illusion” and his call for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq. And there’s been the steady erosion of public support for the administration, a down-staircase of poll graphs capturing the pace at which a growing majority of Americans are finally recognizing the truth. It’s just too bad it took the destruction of my city and the administration’s failure to care afterward to wake everyone up.

And there were reports Tuesday that the president was finally facing the obvious–that the occupation of Iraq is a brutal, bloody failure–and he’s going to end it. Let’s just hope the plan for getting out of the war is better than the one that got us into it. Don’t hold your breath, but in the meantime, enjoy the moment.