The Who Could Have Known mindset is at the very heart of the failure of our political system to address our mounting problems. I devote a whole section to it in Third World America. It’s been the official response of choice to virtually every fiasco of the last decade: Iraq, Katrina, the housing crash, the foreclosure crisis, the BP spill, etc, etc.
As I write in the book:
When you look at the elements that were crucial to the creation of each of these debacles of the past decade, it’s amazing how much they all have in common. And not just in how they began but in how they ended: with those responsible being amazed at what happened, because… who could have known? Well, I’m amazed at the amazement, because each of these disasters was entirely predictable. And, indeed, every one of them was predicted. But those who rang the alarm bells were aggressively ignored, and we let those responsible get away with the ‘Who Could Have Known?’ excuse.