A Heck Of A Mistake

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown addresses a gathering of meteorologists Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006, in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Brown on Wednesday accepted a greater share of the blame for the government's failures after Hurricane Katrina, saying he fell short in conveying the magnitude of the disaster and calling for help. AP

Weekly commentary by Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.


If there is one thing you would think the White House would not want to call attention to especially in an election year, it would be the government's bumbling response to Hurricane Katrina and the man who led that effort — Old Brownie, as we have come to know him.

Which is why I had to read it twice before I really believed the story I found in yesterday's paper.

It said the White House served notice that the president would not abide by new Congressional rules which require the next head of FEMA — that's Brownie's old job — to have five years' experience in disaster management.

Why would the president have a problem with that? The White House says it would encroach on his constitutional power to appoint anyone he chooses for top government jobs.

In other words, if the president wants to appoint someone as incompetent as Old Brownie, he will fight for his right to do that.

Now let's make sure you understand we are talking about Brownie, of "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" fame.

Brownie, you may recall, had a lot of experience as a horse show judge and no experience managing emergencies which is why Congress decided to write a new job description for the next emergency manager.

The president has every right to protect his powers. But with all the attention that it refocuses on Katrina mistakes, you have to believe that a lot of Republican candidates in close races would have preferred the President leave this constitutional battle for another day — the day after the election.



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By Bob Schieffer
  • Patrick Kiker

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