Friday, February 10, 2006

Brownie plays the Blame Game

Hopelessly incompetent ex-FEMA director Michael Brown testified today before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (with the ever-so-appropriate acronym SH! S'GAC!) regarding the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

The policies and decisions implemented by the [Department of Homeland Security] put FEMA on a path to failure.
Brownie does have a point: the DHS was also partly to blame for FEMA's disastrously bungled response to Katrina and the breach of the levees in New Orleans. DHS was so focused on terrorism that they forgot that their mission also includes responding to natural disasters. On the other hand, President Bush himself is largely to blame for FEMA's malfeasance, because, after all, he was the one who appointed Brownie in the first place. The United States Senate is also largely to blame for failing to exercise due diligence in vetting Brownie's qualifications for the job of FEMA director before confirming him; after all, it was abundantly clear that he was the wrong person for the job, and that his appointment was nothing more than political patronage at its worst. He was far less qualified to run FEMA than Harriet Miers was to sit on the Supreme Court.

However, the primary blame for Brownie's incompetent response must remain squarely at Brownie's own feet. He should never have accepted the job of FEMA director, knowing as he did that he was disastrously unqualified and incapable of performing adequately. He is also squarely in the crosshairs of the blame gun for his lack of advance planning for Katrina before it made landfall. He is also squarely in the crosshairs for his incompetent, aloof, directionless response after landfall.

Yes, other people are to blame for putting Brownie in the FEMA chair, for not giving him all of the resources he needed to do his job better, and for overly relying on a demonstrably incapable man to do a job that was completely beyond his meager abilities, but Brownie himself is most to blame, and he is even more to blame for his shameless attempts to portray himself — rather than the citizens of the Gulf Coast whose homes, livelihoods, and even lives were lost because of his incompetence — as the true victim of Hurricane Katrina.