But European prosperity was, in fact, heavily subsidized by decades of free protection by the U.S. military. Meanwhile, aristocratic bureaucrats in Brussels were increasingly not accountable to their skeptical continental constituents -- and seemed terrified of popular referenda from member states on the EU constitution.
And now? Several EU nations like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal face financial implosions -- brought on by unsustainable government spending, out-of-control pensions and endemic tax cheating. The euro is falling fast. Bondholders of European debt are jittery. Now, northwestern countries like Germany and France -- despite their own budget problems -- may have to bailout Greece.
Yet, in 2009, the American binge of massive spending and borrowing, expansion of government, and new proposed taxes followed the model of the supposedly superior European system. But for all the massive new debt, unemployment here remains high and the economy still sluggish.
The Obama administration came into office also convinced of another theory popular among many intellectuals, lawyers and members of the media -- that the so-called "war on terror" had degenerated into a Bush administration overreaction to 9/11. Obama's anti-terrorism czar, John Brennan, lambasted the past anti-terrorism nomenclature and the methods of the very administration he used to work for.
President Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay. Rendition, military tribunals and Predator drone attacks at one time or another were caricatured as unnecessary or counterproductive. Even the name "war on terror" was dropped for kindler, gentler euphemisms.
"Outreach" and "reset" with the Islamic world became instead the talking points. Highly educated experts had to explain to those of us who are less sophisticated that the real dangers were Guantanamo Bay and the waterboarding of a few terrorist detainees rather than the need to detain and interrogate actual terrorists.
And now? After the mass murdering at Fort Hood, the Christmas Day bombing plot, the popular outrage over offering a civilian trial in New York to the architect of 9/11, and the snubbing of American outreach by a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran, there's less reason than ever to accept a therapeutic approach to dealing with radical Islamic terrorism.
There is an unfocused but growing anger in the country -- and it should come as no surprise. Nobody likes to be lectured by those claiming superior wisdom but often lacking common sense about everything from out-of-control spending and predicting the weather to dealing with enemies who are trying to kill us all.