Failure's Many Fathers
"Brownie's" job. President Bush arrived late, apparently without any general storehouse of knowledge about the culture of the city and the small likelihood that it would be able to cope on its own. The lack of attention to visual communication was excruciating in Louisiana and Mississippi, including the guitar-playing and the long on-camera briefing of Bush standing mute as an official explained things to him. Americans don't need to see Bush being briefed, said William Schneider, the CNN commentator. They want leadership. It was a chance for Bush to issue convincing Rudy Giuliani-like assurances and exhortations. What we got was an embarrassing pleasantry about rebuilding Trent Lott's house, a who-would-have-known excuse, and a claim that "Brownie" was doing a good job.
But Brownie, FEMA Director Michael Brown, was doing a poor job. Partisan Democrats laid the criticism on thick, but even Republicans and conservatives are dismayed or simply terrified that so limited a man is in charge of dealing with the aftermath of a major terrorist attack. The decision to relieve Brown as head of the federal Katrina relief effort is one of those dismaying, halfway measures that don't work. If Brown's failure to cope with the current disaster is reason to remove him from his Gulf Coast duties, why isn't it cause to cashier him outright? Brown is not up to handling a terrorist attack. Bush should just replace him and take a good, long look at the way FEMA is run.