Bush's former FEMA head criticizes Obama's response to Sandy

President Bush talks as FEMA director Mike Brown, right, looks on, during a briefing on damage from Hurricane Katrina in Mobile, Ala., Friday, Sept. 2, 2005. Brown, the principal target of harsh criticism of the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, was relieved of his onsite relief command Friday, Sept. 9, 2005. He will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief, recovery and rescue efforts, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) AP Photo/Susan Walsh

If you are the living, breathing apotheosis of poor disaster management, you're probably not the ideal voice from the peanut gallery as the nation begins recovering from a massive hurricane.

But try telling that to former FEMA Director Michael Brown, whose widely criticized response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was blamed for letting New Orleans languish after the storm's destruction and was considered a major blemish on former President George W. Bush's second term.

Brown, whom Bush memorably dubbed "Brownie", on Monday criticized President Obama for responding too proactively to Hurricane Sandy, according to the Denver Westword.

Questioning whether Obama's Sunday press conference was "premature," Brown explained, "People in the northeast are already beginning to blow it off...various news commentators...[and others] in New York are shrugging their shoulders, saying, 'What's this all about?' It's premature [when] the brunt of the storm won't happen until later this afternoon."

Brown said he understood why the president wanted to hold a press conference on Sunday - "My guess is, he wants to get ahead of it. He doesn't want anybody to accuse him of not being on top of it"  but indicated that "[Obama] probably could have had a little more impact doing it today."

It is not clear whether Brown was aware that the president held another news conference on Monday.

In a non-sequitur bound to enrage Mr. Obama's supporters, Brown also questioned why the president was so sensitive to the political ramifications of Hurricane Sandy given his campaigning in the wake of the violence in Benghazi that claimed the life of the American ambassador to Libya.

"One thing he's gonna be asked is, why did he jump on this so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in...Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?" Brown said, referring to Mr. Obama's decision, much-criticized by Republicans, to campaign in Las Vegas as the Benghazi tragedy unfolded. "Why was this so quick?...At some point, somebody's going to ask that question...This is like the inverse of Benghazi."

Asked if he had any advice for the president, Brown obliged: "My advice to him is that he needs to call the cabinet and tell the cabinet members that if [current FEMA head] Craig Fugate calls and asks for something, the expectation is he is going to get whatever he needs."

  • Jake Miller

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.