This morning and last night I listened to about 20 to 30 minutes of excerpts from the congressional deposing of former head of FEMA Michael Brown. The majority of the congressmen, especially Connecticut Republican Christopher Shays were extremely ruthless, essentially blaming Brown personally for the failure to respond to the crisis that resulted from Katrina.
What I find truly unfortunate is that this whole situation stinks of politics. Republicans seem to want to tack the failure of FEMA onto Brown personally, while we all know that this simply was not a case of gross personal negligence no matter how derelict in his duties Brown was. The Bush administration supporters seem to want to distract from a larger administrative failure by compartmentalizing the blame on a single man and hanging him out to dry-- which I frankly find despicable.
At the same time, Democrats seem to be missing the larger point (that Brown is just a patsy) and sinking their teeth into any opportunity to blame someone in the administration for the failure to respond to Katrina. I feel this is a huge mistake, though I recognize why Democrats may simply want to keep the Katrina failure in the news at any costs, if for no other reason than to keep the disaster in the forefront of the public collective mind.
My personal feeling is that Brown is being used as a scapegoat. The real failure was not one by Brown, or by George W. Bush, or by the various local officials. Instead, the failure was one on a widespread level that spans much of the executive branch of the government as well as the local officials who had no contingency plan in place to deal with a disaster they better than anyone else knew was possible. In the end I hope that Brown does not suffer personally, but rather voters end up taking a hard look at the lack of focus on domestic issues that seems characteristic of the Bush administration in addition to state governments realizing that they are responsible for the safety of their citizens and should have plans in place for times of crisis.