Life is Full of Surprises. But This Many?

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Surprise!

The Bush administration was caught by surprise when Cuban President Fidel Castro announced a temporary transfer of power due to illness, according to a U.S. senator who met with the president.

Surprise!

[In 2003,] US Marines pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. Today, America battles Iraqi insurgents not only in the Sunni Triangle but also in Baghdad’s Shi’ite slums and throughout Southern Iraq. Only the Kurdish north remains solidly pro-American, and there are fewer than 300 coalition troops in all of Kurdistan.

This is not how George Bush and Dick Cheney thought it would happen.

Surprise!

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.

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Surprise!

The administration’s allies, however, were disturbed that Bush’s hands now may be tied by the [Hamdan] ruling, written by Justice John Paul Stevens. “Stevens’s opinion was quite shocking in its lack of discussion of the president’s independent authority,” said Andrew McBride, a former Justice Department official…

Bush made no such protest himself yesterday, caught by surprise at the decision.

Surprise!

Although the transaction has been in the works for months and was approved by a federal interagency committee Jan. 17, the White House was caught by surprise early this week when a bipartisan group of lawmakers lashed out at the deal and suggested that the administration was compromising national security by allowing a state-owned company from the United Arab Emirates to take charge of operations at U.S. ports.

Surprise!

In fact, the Bush administration seems to have been caught by surprise when Chiron Corp. notified the US Center for Disease Control Oct. 5 that the company wouldn’t be shipping the vaccine due to the British action. The US Food and Drug Administration didn’t begin an investigation until five days later, according to an FDA news release.

Surprise!

The White House was caught by surprise by [Richard]Clarke’s book [Against All Enemies] even though the book had been over at the White House for months. Clarke followed the rules by shipping his book to the National Security Council last November so it could make sure he had not revealed any national secrets.

Surprise!

The White House didn’t expect a chorus of doubts from religious conservatives such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Richard Land, Michael Horowitz and even Marvin Olasky, one of the [faith-based] program’s early architects. They worry that churches would be corrupted by government regulations orthat objectionable sects would be rewarded.

Surprise!

[T]he meaning of the Vietnam metaphor is that we could be bogged down for years as an unpopular occupying force fighting a low-grade guerilla resistance. I don’t know whether that will happen, but I do know the White House didn’t expect that and certainly didn’t prepare the American people for the possibility.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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