Courtesy of Andrew, here's Daniel Larison, mirroring Bacevich, on the American predicament:
As the temporary ability to pay increases, restraint recedes and a culture of feeding and exciting appetites grows. As virtue is the moderation or even denial of appetites, moral integrity in society as a whole weakens as this culture gains ground. When limits to our consumption seem to fall away, the desire for acquisition and domination becomes stronger and it begins to be expressed in our relations with the rest of the world. We begin to define our interests to satisfy unbounded desire, and so the scope of what we believe is rightfully ours expands until it encircles most, if not all, of the globe, and we are then violently offended when our claims are challenged. Coupled with this desire is the fantasy that technology will gradually overcome or address every limitation, so that every barrier to growth will fall sooner or later. The expectation of progress makes us impatient when our excesses lead to collapses, and when those collapses happen responsibility is deferred again and pinned on useful scapegoats whose punishment will allow us to return to our previous unrestrained habits.
Basically. The trouble is that can anyone win an election saying this? For my money, moderation is as nonpartisan as getting an education--its just makes sense. But are we ready to hear that message? Or have we been lulled to sleep. The scariest part about that two minute Barack Obama ad was when he asked the viewer to go read his economic plan. It felt unique to me, in that it asked us to do something almost for him, and I guess for ourselves. But I kept thinking, will people really do that? Are we ready to act like adults yet?