Ultimately, he's a presidential appointee and so President Bush still bears responsibility for appointing so thoroughly an unprepared and inexperienced official to head FEMA. What makes it all the more egregious is that right now every federal employee is being hammered to take personal responsibility for how he or she performs on the job.
Indeed, personal responsibility is a Republican and a Bush mantra. Whether you're a poor person in an inner city with a drug problem and a lousy education, or a displaced worker whose job has gone to Bangalore, or a federal employee who is constantly recompeting with a private contractor to keep your job, the refrain is always one of personal accountability.
The government has performance measures, metrics to measure that performance and A-76 competitions to hold government employees responsible for performing their jobs efficiently and to bring down the cost to the public.
In addition, the Bush Administration has been pushing for major overhaul of the civil service system. They want to streamline the appeals process for disciplinary actions so that managers have more flexibility to hire and fire federal workers. And they are proposing a pay banding system that would abolish the old General Schedule that rewards employees for longetivity rather than performance. In its place, the Administration has proposed a system, linked to the performance measures discussed above, that would reward top performers and punish underachievers.
With all this emphasis on personal responsibility and accountability - all of which I support as improvements to the old system - where does Michael Brown fit in? He's a failed lawyer who was forced out of his job at the International Arabian Horse Association before being hired by his old college roomate, Joe Allbaugh, to work for FEMA as Deputy Director. And as director, after Allbaugh's departure, he screwed up last year in Florida by giving money for hurricane relief to people in Dade County, where no hurricane even hit. He was widely criticized by the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel for that and they urged Bush to fire him back then.
And where does the President himself fit? He's a man notoriously incapable of ever admitting to a mistake.
But being George Bush means never having to say you're sorry for anything. And if you're a Bush crony, you never have to worry about personal accountability. To date, none of Bush's glorious failures in the Administration - from Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer (glorious failures in Iraq) to FEMA's director have been held accountable.
I guess responsibility, accountability, and performance measures are for the ordinary chumps like you and me, not the cronies in charge. Unfortunately, there also used to be a concept of leading by example.
God forbid we all follow the Bush-Brown example of personal responsibility. That would be lethal for the rest of America, just as it has been for New Orleans.
So, I want to add my voice to the growing chorus: Fire Michael Brown. Hold this Administration to it's own standard. Demand accountability from them. Demand that they take responsibility for their on-the-job performance. Hell, demand that they apologize to the citizens of the Gulf Coast and to the American public. Demand that they act like grown ups for a change.
Also, here's some great links to other's on the blogosphere, especially my personal hero (although he's to the right of me) Andrew Sullivan, who has covered the devastation in the aftermath of Katrina in incredible depth. And also, a wonderful take on Bush's immaturity from Bull Moose
And this just in. I swear, even as I was finishing off this post, my husband walked in and announced, "Barbara has infected Laura."
Apparently, he heard on NBC News this quote from Laura, "the video that we've seen over and over again is not indicative of what's really been happening."
What is it indicative of? Is the video lying? And are all those eyewitnesses and reporters lying? Or is it just that those underprivileged people aren't as appreciative as they should be?