Brad DeLong once said that "'Nobody could have foreseen ______' is
the Bush administration's version of 'The dog ate my homework.'" It
does seem to be their handy-dandy Swiss Army Knife, all-purpose
explanation for the various disasters that have happened on their
We first heard this excuse all the way back in May 2002, when
Condoleezza Rice blithely dismissed Congressional queries about 9/11 by
saying, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people
would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take
another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use
an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."
A nation of Tom Clancy fans — and those who remembered Sam
Byck's too-close-for-comfort White House flyover back in the 70s
— wondered what on God's green earth these idiots were thinking.
But the Bushies decided they were onto something.
In fact, they liked this excuse so much that they trotted it out
again after Katrina. As New Orleans' Ninth Ward vanished under the mud
of Lake Ponchartrain, W went on the national airwaves to insist, "I
don't think anybody anticipated the breech of the levees."
That was wrong, too, of course: everyone from the City of New
Orleans to the Army Corps of Engineers had seen this one coming for
decades. In fact, the New Orleans Times-Picayne had done an entire
series on just this subject as recently as 2002. You’d think that
the coast-to-coast derision that followed might have alerted Bush and
crew they were reaching for an excuse that no self-respecting
third-grader would touch.
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