Saturday, June 10, 2006

Blaming FEMA: President Bush and the abdication of responsibility on Katrina

Brownie took the blame, whether he wanted to or not, and Bush had no interest in taking responsibility for the government's failure to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina. From CNN:

Michael Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Friday that he received the e-mail five days before his resignation from a high-level White House official whom he declined to identify.

The e-mail stated that Bush was relieved that Brown -- and not Bush or Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff -- was bearing the brunt of the flak over the government's handling of Katrina.

The September 2005 e-mail reads: "I did hear of one reference to you, at the Cabinet meeting yesterday. I wasn't there, but I heard someone commented that the press was sure beating up on Mike Brown, to which the president replied, 'I'd rather they beat up on him than me or Chertoff.'"

The sender adds, "Congratulations on doing a great job of diverting hostile fire away from the leader."

Ah, yes, the leader. That, presumably, would be Bush. He preaches responsibility, but he never seems to take any himself. Here's how Steve Benen puts it: "To be sure, there are a couple of degrees of hearsay involved — president told someone, who told someone else, who told Brown — but it's certainly consistent with everything we've seen from the Bush White House from day one. When trouble arises, the buck stops anywhere but the Oval Office. The 'leader' has to be shielded."

And Digby: "The Bushies are counting on being vindicated by history as Truman was. I don't think so. This president is on record, more than once, saying that he expects his underlings to fall on their swords for him. It's not exactly 'the buck stops here.' History will properly record him as a coward, a dunce and a failure."

Thankfully, Brown has the evidence to vindicate himself, at least somewhat, and to show that it was Bush himself who didn't do what a "leader" ought to do in a time of crisis.

See also Shakespeare's Sister.

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