The decorate() proposal was that no new syntax be implemented -- instead a magic function that used introspection to manipulate the following function. Both Jp Calderone and Philip Eby produced implementations of functions that did this. Guido was pretty firmly against this -- with no new syntax, the magicness of a function like this is extremely high:
Overall unfamiliarity with the concept. For people who have a passing acquaintance with algebra (or even basic arithmetic) or have used at least one other programming language, much of Python is intuitive. Very few people will have had any experience with the decorator concept before encountering it in Python. There's just no strong preexisting meme that captures the concept.