Friday, March 03, 2006

Michael Brown: More Scapegoat than Hack?

After reviewing the newly released tapes that revealed the behind-the-scenes Katrina preparations by the federal government, Joe Gandleman of The Moderate Voice has concluded he was wrong to so harshly criticize FEMA Director Michael Brown. On the tapes Brown is seen working hard to marshal enough resources and will to adequately respond to the hurricane.

Joe is right. He was wrong and so were most of us. While I have always tried to make clear that I think blame should be spread over all levels of government from Mayor Nagin to Governor Blanco to President Bush, I have referred to Brown as a hack. A hack is someone who fails to grasp the importance or responsibility inherent in their position. It is clear now that Brown was not a hack. Whether he did a “heckuva job” is still in serious doubt, but he’s looking more like a scapegoat than the main perpetrator.

Ultimately, this was not the failing of one man but of an entire system from the local level on up. But most disturbingly, the Department of Homeland Security failed in its first major test. Yes, government has a tendency to be slow but the DHS was created for the very purpose of streamlining our security and safety apparatuses. Katrina revealed that we still have a long way to go before we can trust our federal government to provide the kind of immediate and meaningful assistance necessary in the aftermath of a catastrophic event.

Perhaps now that we know Michael Brown isn’t a hack, we will take more seriously his analysis of what went wrong and how we can improve the system.

Also commenting on this story: Donklephant and The Mighty Middle.


Blogger Mike said...

I see where you're coming from, but your original description of Brown as a hack was right. While some of the early criticism of Brown may have been out of line, the fact that he was grossly unqualified for the position hasn't changed. Furthermore, his lack of leadership skills were also on display during the whole Katrina episode. Finally, his new attempt to play the role of victim has made me sick - his "left on the battlefield" comments come to mind.

3:32 PM  

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