Watching Sean Hannity’s interview with Donald Rumsfeld last night reminded me of Rumsfeld’s “known- knowns, known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns” statement during a press conference in 2002.  I use this construct in class to describe how to build a legal case (you build it around the known-knowns, just saved you about 50k in tuition):

“[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.  We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.  But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

The known-knowns are the things we usually argue over — we know them. The unknown-unknowns are more fun, but amount to speculation and often devolve into conspiracy theories.

Much more interesting to me are present day known-unknowns, things we know we do not know.  Focusing on policy issues, what are some known unknowns?

Let me start:

  • When we will reach the tipping point in national debt.
  • The number of years it will take us to recover from the increasing restrictions on offshore drilling.
  • Whether and on what conditions the Obama administration will resupply Israel in the event of a full-scale Mideast war.
  • Whether it will be too late to reverse Obamacare if it takes two years until the U.S. Supreme Court rules the mandate to be unconstitutional.
  • The number of jobs which will not be created because of the sweeping scope of pending regulations.


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