When both sides of the US Congress and Senate condemned the poor response in relief aid to the victims of New Orleans, and asked for the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael Brown, to be sacked, President Bush slipped into his usual gear, praising instead Brown for doing a ‘heck of a job’.
Bush was again in denial, as he had been in the case of Karl Rove’s complicity in revealing Valeri Plame’s name to the press. Besides, Michael Brown has been one of his strongest political loyalists.
But Bush found himself more cornered when the utter scale of the f**kup became so apparent even to a man like him. And the last straw happened when the media ferreted out published reports that Brown had added on to his CV things that shouldn’t be even there. Basically he had no experience in emergency services. He was given the job for his loyalty to Bush, but then Bush had never imagined Brown would be called upon to prove his credentials in anger. He thought it would be a cushy job for one of his boys.
You know what Abraham Lincoln said?
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
Well, the chickens have come home to roost for Bush.
He has retreated from his earlier defiant stand with regards to his FEMA chief, and has now replaced Michael Brown with Vice-Admiral Thad Allen, chief of staff of the Coast Guard.
Vice-Admiral Thad Allen will have a hell of a job recovering the situation because it has become more complicated as a result of Brown’s pathetic or even non-existent actions. A senior Republican Senator, Trent Lott, whose house in Mississippi, was destroyed by Katrina, said:
"Michael Brown has been acting like a private, instead of a general."
But the fault lies with Bush, not Brown. Brown was just a party hanger-on, rewarded for his loyalty to Bush. He didn’t have any experience for the job. The people who recommended and appointed him should be held accountable.
This is a lesson also for Malaysia, though we aren’t without Bush’s current nasty experience.