The Pummeling of Michael Brown Continues

After giving the New York Times his first extensive interview since his resignation earlier this week as FEMA director, Brown is getting kicked around the blogosphere like a soccer ball today.

In his account to the Times (about which we’ll have more shortly), Brown said that both early and late he repeatedly asked for help with the Katrina crisis from both the White House and Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff — but he declined to blame either for failing to respond, instead focusing his criticism on what he perceives to be the ineptitude of Louisiana’s governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.

If that doesn’t make sense to you, neither did it to Kevin Drum. At Political Animal, Drum tees off:

I don’t really know what to make of it. Is he blaming Chertoff and Bush, even though he says he isn’t? Does he realize that recounting his frantic — and apparently futile — efforts to get anyone to pay attention to him just makes him look like a doofus? …

Maybe there’s a deep layer that I’m not picking up on, but all his efforts to explain himself seem to backfire. Whether true or not, his attempt to blame state officials looks petty and lame, and his attempt to defend everyone else accomplishes just the opposite.

At Full Disclosure, Loren Steffy serves with “[I]t’s clear the guy was the worst sort of obsequious middle manager. He was a guy who told his bosses what they wanted to hear, then blamed everyone else when things went wrong.” Then, returning Brown’s complaint that couldn’t “get a unified command established,” he hits a powerful cross-court winner. “Establishing that command was his job,” Steffy notes. “When responding to a disaster, results matter. Instead, Brown continues to offer only excuses.”

Brown does have some defenders, however. At The Strata-Sphere, spin is matched with spin:

It seems Brown ran into the Keystone Cops. Now I understand his resignation completely. Brown was tired of taking heat from the liberal media and was most likely chaffing (sic) at the PR directive Bush had put in place calling for no negative comments on the Katrina response. …

No amount of liberal media spin is going to change the fact [that] Blanco blew it on Katrina.

Next to catch the blogosphere’s attention was a Washington Post story that reports that the president “will call tonight for an unprecedented federal commitment to rebuild New Orleans and other areas obliterated by Hurricane Katrina, putting the United States on pace to spend more in the next year on the storm’s aftermath than it has over three years on the Iraq war.” The expected Katrina price tag? More than $200 billion.

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall seems a little stunned. “What’s driving this budgetary push is not a natural disaster but a political crisis, the president’s political crisis. The White House is trying to undo self-inflicted political damage on the national dime,” he writes. “You don’t have to be a conservative or a budget-hawk to be deeply worried about what’s happening here.”

The Post’s comparison of hefty price tags leads us to Iraq, where the Times reports that a second day of heavy suicide bombings has killed at least 20 people, following attacks yesterday that left nearly 150 dead. BlondebutBright somberly notes:

Iraq isn’t going away. I woke up this morning to the BBC’s report of ‘Another Suicide Bombing’ in Iraq. How sad, that ‘another’ is included in the title; it is so commonplace that each individual attack has lost any semblance of shock, and all we’re left with is a vague notion of the fact that ‘x’ number of people has been added to the total number killed as a direct result of violence.

Edward B. Colby

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Edward B. Colby was a writer at CJR Daily.