During his visit to Mobile, Ala., on Friday, President Bush singled out Michael D. Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for praise:
Really? “Brownie’s” job is to direct the federal response to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Let’s review his public statements during the past week:
– He admitted that he didn’t act more aggressively because as late as last Sunday he expected Katrina to be a “standard hurricane” even though the National Weather Service in New Orleans was already predicting “human suffering incredible by modern standards.”
– He proved himself utterly clueless about the disaster unfolding in New Orleans. He claimed that the federal relief effort was “going relatively well” and that the security situation in New Orleans was “pretty darn good.”
– He blamed the flood victims in New Orleans for failing to evacuate on time, even though local authorities failed to make municipal vehicles available to residents who could not drive or did not own their own cars.
“It took four days to begin a large-scale evacuation of people stranded in the Superdome stadium and to bring in significant amounts of food and water to an American city easily accessible by motorway,” the Observer notes. “Relief agencies took half that time to reach Indonesia after the Boxing Day tsunami. ”
Although the delay was not entirely the fault of the Bush Administration, Brown’s complacency clearly didn’t help. And his bumbling statements after the hurricane struck have not inspired confidence.
This is not the time to give a weak performer the benefit of the doubt. The FEMA director’s role in the ongoing recovery effort is too important to be entrusted to a clueless political hack with such poor judgment.
Rather than praise Michael Brown, Bush should fire him.
No one — NO ONE — who knows anything about New Orleans’s geography and topography and levee system would ever have thought for a single moment on Saturday and Sunday that Katrina, if it followed the predicted path, was going to be a “typical hurricane situation.” Jesus Christ!! For how many years now has this article been out there?!? And this one? And many more like them? Did Michael Brown never read them? Was he not familiar with the science? Was FEMA’s director unaware of what has been acknowledged for many years as the #1 most serious natural disaster threat in all of America?!?
9:45am EDT: Brown is being criticized on FOX News Sunday. “He has a lot to answer for,” says Bill Kristol. “He clearly did not know what was going on.”