Remember: there’s three fingers pointing back at you

by Brian Clarey

Mike Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, onetime commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association and accused resume padder is a complete and utter jackass.

On Sept. 27 Brownie was called by a House investigative committee to answer for the snafus after Hurricane Katrina. His response to accusations of ineptitude and inexperience was one of defiance.

‘“I know what I’m doing, and I think I do a pretty darn good job of it,’” he said to the largely Republican group of inquisitors. Many Democrats boycotted the hearing.

According to Brownie, his own hands are clean on this one.

He blamed the entire state of Louisiana, calling it ‘“dysfunctional.’”

He blamed the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA’s parent agency, for a lack of emergency vehicles and for cutting his budget, though in actuality FEMA’s budget has increased 13 percent since it was moved under the DHS, according to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Brownie blamed the media, which he labeled ‘“hysteric,’” for artificially inflating the body count in New Orleans, disseminating rumors about murders and rapes in the Superdome and the Convention Center and diverting his attention and time, which he said could have been better spent dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane.

And he blamed the American people, who in his mind should take more responsibility for themselves in the face of impending natural disasters.

His main regret, he said, was that he was ‘“unable to persuade Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences, and work together. I just couldn’t pull that off.’”

Blanco and Nagin, both Democrats, had just a single public dispute before the storm, when Nagin endorsed another candidate over her in the Louisiana gubernatorial election of 2003. Still, he called her ‘“a very nice lady’” with a ‘“pretty good record of doing things.’”

Brownie also said that he should have scheduled more media briefings.

And when questioned about his admission to CNN’s Paula Zahn on Thursday, Sept. 1, nearly 100 hours after the storm hit, that ‘“the federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today,’” he tersely defrayed the issue by saying he ‘“misspoke.’”

Can you believe this guy?

Brownie’s audacity and sheer nerve in the face of these accusations came less than two weeks after President Bush accepted ‘“full responsibility’” for failures to deal with the crisis at the federal level. Bush’s admission encouraged us to believe that a new era of accountability was perhaps underway. We were mistaken.

And we are angry.

Although Brownie resigned from his position as head of FEMA on Sept. 12, he still works for the agency in an advisory role and will collect his salary, which in 2004 totaled $145,600, until Oct. 12.

Brownie, a former aide for Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, was not qualified to work for FEMA in any capacity unless a national emergency should arise dealing with Colorado real estate or Arabian horses. That he is still on the payroll is not just disturbing, it’s downright offensive.

And his behavior in the face of the death and devastation of Katrina’s aftermath is despicable.

Heck of a job, Brownie.