RichM nails it
responding to this post: The World's Honeymoon with America appears to be over.
This is surely true, but the Bush admin is more result than cause
of the deterioration in the US position.
Before WWI, the US & Germany were rising powers, both challenging Britain's dominance.
After WWII, the US was the undisputed heavyweight champ, with all other rivals flattened by the war. In this incredibly fortunate circumstance, the US could indeed (temporarily) play the role of the world's "glamorous star." This was our "Golden Age." (Sigh.)
But as the decades of the postwar era wore on, rival economies recovered. They learned from the US, & developed their own innovations. Meanwhile the US blew too much money on the military; and based its entire economy on unsustainable things like oil, consumerism, and the wage structure we'd gotten used to before globalization made outsourcing possible.
This confluence of factors put the US on the path to crisis. Our economy can't possibly compete with other countries where wages are 25 cents a day. Hence we can't create jobs here and have mammoth trade deficits. Our deeply entrenched corporate corruption blocks all attempts at serious shifting of course. In a terribly broad sense, we've become a sclerotic society -- lazy, ignorant, fat, and unable to solve daily problems well enough to keep the ship afloat. Consumerism is necessary to pacify the populace, but also produces a nation of ignorant slobs -- hardly a "cutting edge" quality workforce.
As it became increasingly apparent that we could no longer be top dog in terms of economic competition, the ruling elite opted for 2 predictable shifts: they altered domestic policy in favor of themselves & against the working class, and relied increasingly on America's one remaining area of supremacy -- its military. Reagan and the two Bush assholes were put in power to carry out these 2 policy shifts. They were symptoms more than causes of the underlying problems.
But the viciousness & ignorance they helped institutionalize will certainly also feed back into the loop, causing still further deterioration. America resembles a dottering old fool who, though losing his mind and his grip on sanity, has unfortunately accumulated a big arsenal of very dangerous weaponry.