Writing about the causes of the recent economic meltdown in the US, Barbara Ehrenreich mentions, in addition to greed and speculation, "the delusional optimism of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking. "
I think this optimism is really the outward manifestation of what I attribute America's collapse to: lack of higher level thinking skills. This lack of ability to analyze, synthesize, interpret, etc. explains why 14 million people are willing to listen to Rush Limbaugh. It explains why so many Americans can't understand why Michelle Obama might not be proud of her country. It explains why 30% of Americans believe that Iraq was responsible for 9/11 or that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
The "delusional" part is as important as the "optimism" part. Americans - even members of the "Greatest Generation" - can't handle bad news. Can't handle the thought that they can't have their cake, eat it, too, and that American cake is better than any other country's cake, especially France.
Delusional optimism and lack of higher level thinking skills - what else could explain Americans' unwillingness to HEAR facts, much less THINK about them? Or ACT on them.