Andrew Bacevich writes:
Amen. Usually, I'm an incrementalist. Not now.
By showing that Bush has put the country on a path pointing to permanent war, ever increasing debt and dependency, and further abuses of executive authority, Obama can transform the election into a referendum on the current administration's entire national security legacy. By articulating a set of principles that will safeguard the country's vital interests, both today and in the long run, at a price we can afford while preserving rather than distorting the Constitution, Obama can persuade Americans to repudiate the Bush legacy and to choose another course.
This is a stiff test, not the work of a speech or two, but of an entire campaign. Whether or not Obama passes the test will determine his fitness for the presidency.
The ideas and ideals that have been the best of America for two centuries may be doomed. So few Americans seem to care about them any more, preferring instead to maintain the illusion of our superiority in all things as the empire Duhbya and the PNAC neocons wanted crumbles around us.
We may be helpless in a canoe trying to paddle back from the edge of Niagara. We may have crossed the Schwarzchild radius of doomed empires.
Maybe the tribalism of a proudly uneducable ignoramus in the threadbare favorite Bud Lite T-shirt from high school that no longer covers his beer belly has already thrown back the Enlightenment. Maybe when he shouts "USA number 1" at a Republican rally and it's not just a feel-good slogan but the sum-total of his so-called thoughts, we've already reached the point at which asking Americans to make themselves, our shared nation, and our impact on the world better is - stupidly, vapidly, absurdly - too much for him to bear our asking.
This ignoramus sees it as an insult to ask USA-number-1 to improve. This ignoramus sees the flag as more important than the Constitution because the flag is a tribal totem to him and engages his balls and his ample gut, while the Constitution is just fancy words that would engage what he imagines is his mind. But those words might puzzle and confuse him if he ever read them, so he doesn't. This willful ignorance is the path to death as a leading civilization.
There are signs that end times are coming, though they have nothing at all to do with the Rapture, but only with the social and political rot in our heartwood. Even so, I still hope, mostly because I can't give up on the founding ideals of America.
(h/t Tom at the Inverse Square, in turn from Talking Points Memo)