While I was reading Vidal's Inventing a Nation, I also picked up an interesting book by Claes G. Ryn, America the Virtuous: THe Crisis of Democracy and the Quest for Empire (Transaction, 2003). I have a hunch that if I knew better, I would see that there's something of Voeglin behind this, but that's a vague guess right now. At the very least, Ryn seems more comfortable with Adams' vision of America.
Just two quick pieces of interest:
(1) Ryn helpfully reminds us that a commitment to "democracy" can be expressed in quite different forms, and does not require the propogation of "plebiscitary" democracy that we get from the neocons. The problem with that version of democracy, he says, is that it "does not entertain any deep-seated suspicions regarding the popular desires of the moment" (p. 52). For some reason, this reminded me of Vidal's extolling of a more Jeffersonian Republicanism as checks and balances on the "will of the people." But I might be getting this all confused. (Hey, I'm only a Canadian!)
(2) Ryn describes the neocons of the PNAC-variety as "the new Jacobins." This provides an interesting historical analogue that repays further consideration.