A friend of mine has a quote that he likes to cite on occasion:
Never assume malice, when incompetence can explain it all.
Rapper Kanye West assumes malice for the lack of initial federal response. Some others do as well. But in my read of President Bush's management style, he broadly relies on his delegates to manage their world below him, and only bring his attention to a matter if he's required.
The one blog I've been reading for Katrina news since before the hurricane started is Brendan Loy, an amateur weather buff who understands meteorology pretty well and a law school student. Very smart guy, and he tirelessly finds great Katrina news.
He's pissed. And he should be. I'm now pissed as well.
Brendan, in the link I provide above, quotes FEMA director Mike Brown as saying that the feds thought Katrina would be just another "typical hurricane situation." Hence, the slow response.
If you're a clerk in a sales office in Little Rock, Arkansas, I might expect that assessment. Or if you're a 5th grader in Sacramento, that logic makes sense. But if you're the director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, such as Mike Brown is, that statement is beyond the pale.
Bush is famous for his loyalty to his staff. We could debate all day whether the resignation of Rumsfeld was justified - I would disagree if you thought that it was. We could debate Karl Rove's lingering stay in Bush's troop of advisors. But there simply is no debating the retention of Mike Brown.
Read Brendan's post. Here's the link again.
Brown's gotta go. End of story. And if one week from now Bush feels as he did last Friday, when Bush praised Brown for doing a heck of a job, then I'll be a letter-writing fool.
ETC: And I want to be clear about something - Brown's aloofness and extreme misunderstanding of the disaster in no way forgives the local officials, such as Mayor Ray Nagin, who failed to get people out of harm's way. In fact, I put Brown and Nagin in the same class of aloofness and extreme misunderstanding. They are two people not fit for the positions in which they are employed.
MORE ETC: I've learned that Mike Brown's previous experience was as a manager of horse shows.
Which makes this picture that's been on Drudge for the last 24 hours rather ironic:
Evidently, what qualified him for his new position was that he was a GOP activist and former college roommate of the guy who used to head FEMA. Cronyism. I'm thoroughly disgusted.