Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 9, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

THE MIKE BROWN STORY....Just how unqualified is Mike Brown to be head of FEMA? We already know the basic story: he was commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, was asked to leave, and then landed a plum job as general counsel of FEMA thanks to the lucky chance that he had once been the college friend of Joe Allbaugh, the former Bush chief of staff who was tapped to run FEMA in 2001. From there he was promoted to deputy head of FEMA and finally to the top job.

But wait! There's more! It turns out that "unqualified" is being too kind. For the full story, go first to Eric Umansky, who excerpts a Time investigation of Brown's early years (circa 1975-81), and then to the New Republic, where Paul Campos picks up the baton and tells the rest of Brown's life story (circa 1981-2001). The combined resume padding these two pieces document is genuinely pathetic.

Folks, Mike Brown is in a world of hurt. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that the rest of FEMA's executive ranks aren't much better:

Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

FEMA's top three leaders Director Michael D. Brown, Chief of Staff Patrick J. Rhode and Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks D. Altshuler arrived with ties to President Bush's 2000 campaign or to the White House advance operation, according to the agency. Two other senior operational jobs are filled by a former Republican lieutenant governor of Nebraska anda U.S. Chamber of Commerce official who was once a political operative.

....Rhode, Brown's chief of staff, is a former television reporter who came to Washington as advance deputy director for Bush's Austin-based 2000 campaign and then the White House. He joined FEMA in April 2003 after stints at the Commerce Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Altshuler is a former presidential advance man. His predecessor, Scott Morris, was a media strategist for Bush with the Austin firm Maverick Media.

The story also notes a "brain drain" of experienced disaster professionals at FEMA's lower levels, "hastened in part by the appointment of leaders without backgrounds in emergency management." Wonderful.

Kevin Drum 12:42 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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