Buck stops where?

What amazes me about l’affaire Brownie is that is reveals how indecisive the Bush White House is. Why torture the puppy and relieve Brown of his Katrina duties only to have him “quit” a few days later? What was gained versus just getting rid of him in one swift cut? Why be indecisive when indecisiveness is exactly the problem with the government’s response to the storm? If local and state governments hadn’t screwed up, too, I think the downfall of the Bush legacy wouldn’t be Iraq after all, but Katrina. There’s still time.

  • Jeff, what if he wouldn’t go easily? What if he refused to resign for the first 24 hours or so? You don’t know enough to say that Karl Rove decided to torture him. That’s a dumb and biased assumption.

    But I think it’s good that he’s gone.

  • Do not overlook Bush’s one great flaw — his over-estimation of the importance of personal loyalty to him. Bush will forgive alot from his supordinates as long as they are perceived as being team players. The end result is an administration filled with mediocre performers at best.

  • Do not overlook Bush’s one great flaw — his over-estimation of the importance of personal loyalty to him.

    Indeed. Had Bush been only a one-term president, this “loyalty” would likely have been painted as a great virtue, but as time goes by his refusal to hold anyone in his administration accountable for failure has seemed more and more pathological. Not granting the opposition any quarter is one thing (and I have to say that after watching Clinton cut loose anyone from his administration at the first whiff of a problem it was impressive to see a President actually stick to his guns defending his appointees, all politics aside); defending people who are manifestly incompetent and threatening the welfare of our country is another thing entirely.

  • Doug Gregory

    I love you Jeff. It’s not that he’s “gone”, it’s that he didn’t go the right way. You people kill me.

  • Victoria Balfour

    We have no idea at this point what Bush’s legacy will be. A lot of unforseen things can happen in the remaining years of his term — things that we can’t even begin to imagine.

  • When you’re officially infallible it leads to indecision. Especially after a failure.

  • David

    >reveals how indecisive the Bush White House is.

    The following article explain why that is…


    Judging from the blistering analyses in Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere these past few days, it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don’t emerge from his gut. He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read. And oh yes, one of his most significant legacies — the immense post-Sept. 11 reorganization of the federal government which created the Homeland Security Department — has failed a big test.

    His legacy is going to be one of utter failure just like everything else he has undertaken in his life.

  • Catherine

    Why didn’t he just flat out fire him? Isn’t that the sort of decisiveness we needed from the president right now? The right message to send to the country was that “As President, I’m not going to stand for this sort of inefficiency.” Even if that’s not really what this President is about, shouldn’t Karl have said “Georgie, you’ve gotta pull the trigger on this one.”?

  • David

    >Why didn’t he just flat out fire him?

    The sad truth is no one told him to…Georgie is too dumb to figure things out on his own….the sad truth is we have a moron in the white house.

    Does this surprise anyone?

    >He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read.

    I didn’t think so.

    Republicans think being good at delegating things to others is a sign of a great leader…unfortunately Shrub has delegated most if not all of his thinking to others…so when the hurrican occured and Dick was on vacation, Karl was out sick, Condi was shopping for shoes…Shrub had no one to delegate to do his thinking for him and tell him who he should delegate to :-)

    Much as I hate them let’s hope Cheney heart holds out for rest of his term, that Karl gets healthy and doesn’t get indicted, and that Condi finds a good shoe store near the White House…otherwise we are in real trouble if Shrub is left all alone and something major breaks.


  • John T

    Removing Brown from the Katrina relief effort was decisive and presumably results driven.

    Firing him would have only validated his scapegoating by the press, which is unjustified at this time due to lack of data and an unbiased review.

  • Apparently Bush didn’t know Brown had resigned. When asked about it he said “That’s news to me”.

    Cheney runs policy, Rove runs political operations, Bush has no “need to know”.

  • John T

    Perhaps you would have preferred a micro manager such as President Carter?

  • John T: Yes. Exactly. Now you get it. Whatever Carter’s faults — and there were many — sloppy response to natural disater wasn’t one of them.

  • Mike G

    It’s always interesting that the liberals who think it’s terrible if GM lays off workers and help put union rules in place that make it impossible to fire a bad teacher suddenly become the most eager of free market headchoppers when it comes to the Bush administration.

    Maybe, rightly or wrongly, Bush feels that not totally hanging someone like Brown out to dry makes other people in the administration more willing to take risks and do their jobs well and innovatively.

  • Mike G: Tell you what — come back with evidence that Michael Brown iwas replaced by cheap labor from India or China and then you’ll have an argument that makes sense.

  • It’s fairly obvious that Brown took on the decision to resign himself after being symbolically moved back.

    I’ve had this sort of conversation with a liberal friend before; one was about the motivation of soldiers in Iraq. He could not accept the premise that some people do things for the right reasons. You know, to do good for the world, that kind of thing.

    Somehow doing good for the world always becomes part of the liberal sales pitch when it comes to guilting people into doing things against their best interest, but they tend not to believe in it as a natural impulse. This is why leftist bloggers like Kos, Atrios, and Willis read like ultra-cynical 13 year olds — they cannot read motivations in anyone beyond their cartoonish view that everything is done out of evil and incompetence.

    It makes its appearance even in the outrage directed at Bush for giving jobs to loyal Republicans, just as Clinton gave jobs to loyal Democrats. Bush’s favoritism is evil and incompetent, while Clinton’s rewarding an Arkansas state trooper with FEMA is ignored or spun into something praise-worthy. It’s the Melchett effect.

    Darling: So you see, Blackadder, Field Marshal Haig is most anxious to eliminate all these German spies.

    Melchett: Filthy Hun weasels fighting their dirty underhand war!

    Darling: And, fortunately, one of *our* spies–

    Melchett: Splendid fellows, brave heroes, risking life and limb for Blighty!

  • Natalie

    Trying to remember the last high level government official removed at all….ever.

  • rick_d

    C’mon Jeff, they had to check the polling first.

  • David

    >He could not accept the premise that some people do things for the right
    >reasons. You know, to do good for the world, that kind of thing.

    LOL now i’ve read everything. A republican talking about doing good for the world!!!

    I’m sure what your friend meant was…”He could not accept the premise that a republican would ever do things for the right reasons…unless those right reasons meant doing something for the “right” people and making the right amount of money.”

  • Now, David, you know the ultimate benevolence of the tax cuts and gushers of money for oil/KBR is just so that it will ‘trickle down’ to the workers at the bottom. Surely you’re too cynical, not seeing this as doing things for the right reasons? Tch, tch.

  • LanceThruster

    Where’s the loyalty in letting someone go who you’ve said, is “doing a heck of a job”? Where’s the surprise at someone who is as clueless about everything alse as he is over the performance of his people? Where’s the outrage over emergency management that fails to take action, effective or otherwise on the observation that others did not take enough right actions, effective and otherwise?

    Who the bigger fool? The fool, or the fool that follows the fool?

  • Angelos

    CNN Breaking News:

    — President Bush says he takes responsibility for the federal government’s failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina.

    Oh, the irony. Oh, the comedy. I can’t stand it.

    Responsibility? Bush? Yup, that’s breaking news alright. A first, even.

  • Gunther

    There’s a difference between responsibility and accountability. Bush joins the long list of people who have screwed things up royally, and then expect to get off the hook because they’ve publicly admitted that they accept responsibility. But it’s responsibility without consequences. It’s a sham. Responsibility used to mean, if you screw something up, you accept responsibility for it, and resign. It’s now the case that public figures and politicians simply have to publicly utter the phrase “I accept responsibility”, as if that somehow absolves them of blame and the need to suffer negative consequences for their actions (or lack thereof). You accept responsibility and then expect everything to go on as normal.

  • cardeblu

    Maybe Bush didn’t fire him because Brown did such a good job with the 4 hurricanes that hit Florida last year, as well as Katrina when she hit Florida as a Cat 1 and with the other 2 states when she became a Cat 4 (downgraded from a Cat 5).

    It wasn’t until Brown had to deal with the incompetent, inept, indecisive and politically motivated, democrat LA governor, democrat LA senator, and democrat NO mayor that problems arose (yes, I know Nagin originally ran as a republican).

    Gee, I wonder what the difference was…

  • two interesting developments since the bungling > resume scandal > re-assignment > resignation

    1) that bushie hired Duct Tape Man
    2) your boy Glenn refuses to mention Brownie’s resignation, the resumeGate, or DuctTape Man

  • Linda Edwards

    cadeblu, or it could be that

    1) last year was an election year
    2) Brother Jeb is governor of Florida

    I’d like to see you ask the people in Biloxi MS if they think FEMA is doing a good job. They’d laugh in your face. FEMA has been a no-show in MS. Every resident I’ve seen interviewed (I watched one interview not a half-hour ago) even this week have said they haven’t even seen a FEMA truck yet. They’re getting by from donations from out-of-state, and from churches. And they’re pissed.

    So it ain’t just New Orleans. Where’ve you been the past two weeks?

  • >He could not accept the premise that some people do things for the right
    >reasons. You know, to do good for the world, that kind of thing.

    LOL now i’ve read everything. A republican talking about doing good for the world!!!

    Note that I’m not claiming that good or bad is reserved for any particular side or person. I’ve only indicated the cardboard cartoon belief system that enables hate, and leads to mistaken assumptions about motives.

    This is the same kind of stories that racists and nazis tell themselves. “Blacks are all lazy”, “Jews are all stingy”, “Republicans are all mean”… it’s all stuff that allows people to view their avowed enemy as a subhuman species, and allows rationalizations for otherwise stupid and sometimes violent behavior. You see topics at DemocraticUnderground popping up all the time alluding to things like “time to take off the gloves and fight dirty”, “fight fire with fire”, “let’s do what they do because we know they do it”. A good Democrat would never slash the car tires of black people just because they are black, for example, because that would be repugnant; but they can talk themselves into slashing the tires of cars at a Republican office because of their childish rationalizations.

    While it’s not quite as ugly to apply this kind of childishness to a political rival as it is an entire race or religion, it’s still as stupid, whether done by Democrats or Republicans.

  • David

    >While it’s not quite as ugly to apply this kind of childishness to a political
    >rival as it is an entire race or religion, it’s still as stupid, whether done by
    >Democrats or Republicans.

    Have you listened to talk radio? Have you watched Fox News? Have you read books by the likes of Coulter? Do you forget the videos they sold about the people clinton had killed? Do you remember the riots in FL to stop the vote counting that the likes of Gigot cheered on?

    Give it a rest already, you republicans have been playing dirty for decades and the “moderates” like Jarvis never take you to task for any of it.

  • CarsonFire – you’re absolutely correct. And David is absolutely correct, in a sense, as well. It starts by identifying the fringe with the mainstream – DU isn’t the mainstream, any more than LGF is the mainstream.

    But it’s useful to the demonization principle to identify the most extreme of your opponents as their mainstream. For the most part, I see that as largely starting with opposition to the Vietnam war – which is to say, the technique has been used most successfully by some on the right. Indeed though, both sides do it, because if done right it works.

    Now, it gets more complicated when there is a major power imbalance between the two extremes. Pat Robertson (to take an example) is an extreme, and I wouldn’t hold him against most Rs. Ward Churchill (to take another example) is an extreme I would hope most Rs wouldn’t hold against most Ds. But Robertson has far more influence on the Republican party than Churchill has on the Democratic party. How does that kind of situation get reconciled? Is it ok to use the tar brush with a little thinner?

  • KB

    Tony is right. Instahack refuses to acknowledge the resume padding, which would be a huge scandal to him if it were from a Dem official. Glen Reynolds is such a my-party-right-or-wrong partisan.

  • John T

    A leader accepts responsibility for the actions of those in his chain of command. The President has publicly done this, to the extent that his people are found to have been ineffective.

    Can the fact that Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin have yet to do the same form the basis for the conclusion that they are without responsibility at this time?

    Can we conclude yet that they are not actually leaders in the same sense as President Bush is?

    Is it about a difference in management styles? Are the Mayor and Governor simply more laid-back and easygoing?

    Maybe I just don’t understand how they operate in Louisiana.

  • Angelos

    Via TPM:

    Back on September 7th, Rep. John Conyers wrote to the Congressional Research Service (one of the few parts of the government that can legitimately be called non-partisan) and asked them to review the record to see whether Gov. Blanco of Louisiana took the necessary steps in a timely fashion to secure federal assistance in the face of hurricane Katrina.

    The report came back yesterday. Yes, she did.

  • Angelos

    Um… http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/09/13/MNG3HEMQHG1.DTL

    Outside one house on Kentucky Street, a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division summoned a reporter and photographer standing nearby and told them that if they took pictures or wrote a story about the body recovery process, he would take away their press credentials and kick them out of the state.

    “No photos. No stories,” said the man, wearing camouflage fatigues and a red beret.

    On Saturday, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims.

    But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that assurance wasn’t being followed. The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had a policy that requires media to be 300 meters — more than three football fields in length — away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations.

  • Nagin has done so, John – or at least I interpret “analyze my ass, man, analyze everyone’s ass” as a definite willingness to take responsibility to the same degree the President is. And he said it well before the President did. I don’t think you can call Nagin “laid-back”, whatever else you might think about him.

    And I suspect that the perception of indecisiveness is the best frame the White House can expect. It’s a tossup to me, but indecisive is better than inattentive or incompetent. The opposites – decisive, attentive, competent – are beyond reach for them. Honestly, a headline reading “Bush Does a Good Job Once He’s Aware of The Issue” is not a confidence builder. Neither is “Bush Signed Emergency Order for Wrong Parishes, But Fixes it Two Days Later”.

    So cheer up – on the political front, things could get worse for the White House.

  • owl 1

    Uh, excuse me in this lovefest, but would one of you please point me to EXACTLY what FEMA (as in Bushieland) did wrong? Waiting……….

  • Ed Poinsett

    You make it sound like Bush is on his hands and knees wailing that he takes responsibility for the entire Katrina mess. More disinformation. Bush said – “To the extent that there were failures of the federal government, I take responsibility”. That is appropriate. To this point, however, no specific failures of the federal government have been identified.

    Please just go with the facts, not the out of context stuff from Rooters and CNN!

  • owl,

    the irony of your trolling question is that you used the word


  • Interesting results so far in the WSJ online poll asking “What did you think of Bush’s statement accepting responsibility for the federal government’s failings on Katrina?”

    It was more than needed: 21%
    It was appropriate: 35%
    It wasn’t enough: 45%

    Hardly scientific, but indicative nonetheless.

  • YetAnotherrick

    One benefit of Brown waiting is several days of Bush Derangement Syndrome blather from pseudo-liberal Democrats (hat tip: Daily Howler)

  • here ya go, owl – remember those questions about busses?

    “In addition, FEMA’s official requests, known as tasking assignments and used by the agency to demand help from other government agencies, show that it first asked the Department of Transportation to look for buses to help evacuate the more than 20,000 people who had taken refuge at the Superdome in New Orleans at 1:45 a.m. on Aug. 31. At the time, it only asked for 455 buses and 300 ambulances for the enormous task. Almost 18 hours later, it canceled the request for the ambulances because it turned out, as one FEMA employee put it, “the DOT doesn’t do ambulances.”

    FEMA ended up modifying the number of buses it thought it needed to get the job done, until it settled on a final request of 1,355 buses at 8:05 p.m. on Sept. 3. The buses, though, trickled into New Orleans, with only a dozen or so arriving on the first day.”

    So they ordered the busses on the 31st, and then cancelled it, and it took THREE MORE DAYS to get a request through. That kinda answers the bus question. Don’t blame me for the news – blame the Wall Street Journal.


  • owl 1

    greg……going to go read it. Thank you for a link……first I have seen.

  • owl 1

    or not…….subscription only…..So I will shut up on buses until I can I can see it with my own eyes. I want to know who the FEMA person was…..was it state or fed that ordered them? Who? And who did they order from….state or fed? If this adds to Feds, this is the bye bye Browne.

    And I still want to know why they would not allow food and water until the buses got there.

    You have supplied me with the very first hint of info and I have been on looking every single day…..

  • owl – the section in quotes is from the site – they ordered them from the federal DOT. Of course, if the plan was for the Feds to get food, water, and busses to the dome and convention center, then the 31st was a hella late time to be getting around to requesting them in the first place. The stunning part to me is the 3 day delay after they cancelled the first order. No wonder Blanco was “blistering mad”, as the NY Times had it.

    And it’s the first real info I’ve seen on the bus situation, as well.

  • In a short statement on Tuesday, George W. Bush completely undermined the entire premise for his second term as President.

    “Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government…Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That’s a very important question and it’s in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond.”

    For the full story, see:

    “George W. Bush: Security Risk.”

  • it’s still as stupid, whether done by
    >Democrats or Republicans

    Have you listened to talk radio? Have you watched Fox News? Have you read books by the likes of Coulter?

    Yes, but you apparently choose not to understand what I wrote.

    You and Greg Burton are missing my point. I’m simply saying that the tendency to create stereotypes — even in a mildish, innocent way of moderates — seems to be making many see this as some kind of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, when it may be simply what it is… a man resigning after it has become clear that he has become the scapegoat (rightly or wrongly).

    It doesn’t really matter to me if you hate hate hate Republicans and think they are capable of nothing but evil. But it will cause you to go through life viewing life in a distorted and unrealistic way that will probably not serve you well. And I never said there weren’t Republicans who suffer from the same problem. But to claim that somebody who recognizes this problem is further demonizing people in turn is ludicrous; back to my previous analogy, you don’t exhibit hate by identifying the traits of Ku Klux Klan members.

    Having said that, the laundry lists of Republican hate are amusing, because FoxNews is not a font of hate simply because it allows conservatives equal time on the air. Defining free speech for your enemies as hate simply because they disagree with you is more telling of your own potential symptomatic hate than theirs. O’Reilly is always held up as a symbol of Republican hate, for instance, even though he is often simply just an apolitical loudmouth. He’s FoxNews’ Oprah Winfrey. And he’s probably less representative of today’s conservatives than Shephard Smith.

    But there are Republicans who do suffer from this dementia, and I never said there wasn’t. Ann Coulter clearly does hate liberals, but I don’t see Ann Coulter skulking around Jeff Jarvis’ comments. Or FoxNews, for that matter. However, it is quite likely that some of the commenters here are frequenters of DemocraticUnderground, Kos, Atrios, etc, which is what makes them relevant.

  • Oh, I’m a little late getting this from the Rightwing Attack Machine, but this is good:

    “We’re starting to move the trailers in,” said then-FEMA director and current Hillary favorite James Lee Witt, nearly a month after Floyd first hit. “It’s been so wet, it’s been difficult to get things in there”

    What’s remarkable is that leftist bloggers are characterizing Witt’s administration of FEMA as particularly noteworthy (and I’m not saying it wasn’t) by quoting glowing statements by Republicans, including then-Governor George W. Bush.

    What they miss is just what I’m talking about: what’s most likely is that Republicans at the time were giving honest, non-political assessments. Where there is nothing to be gained by blindly attacking over and over, you have the luxury of simply being honest and gracious.

    That’s not what many Democrats are doing now. This is not attack on my part, but analysis: the intensity of the attacks on the Bush adminstration are based less on the actual shortcomings of the response than they are a carry-over of the non-stop hate and craving for political opportunity. We could have had the same exact situation, same problems, and same results, but if we did have a Clinton in office, we’d be hearing almost nothing but the positives, how FEMA’s response was as fast or faster than could be expected in an emergency of this magnitude, and we would especially see a celebration that the feared death toll was not as high as expected. The MSM, whether you choose to believe it or not, is still primarily a liberal organization.

    Instead, now — and I’m sorry, this is quite telling — I’m seeing many people on the left *furious* when they hear that there weren’t more deaths. This is related to the victory lap I identified in one of the posters here, earlier. They have quite clearly allowed logic and reason to slip away in favor of single-minded fury.

    And I apologize if this sounds like an attack. It *is* quite harsh, but it is exactly what I am seeing.

    You can easily counter by citing Republican failings again. Of course Republicans respond by citing failures of local Democrats, but they are behaving defensively and not proactively. They may or may not be right in doing so — but it’s childish to constantly harp on “what they do” when there is clearly no restriction or boundary on what you are doing.

  • Carson, I appreciate you feel I misunderstood your point. I can see it quite clearly, and despise demonization from either side, and was trying to carry the conversation forward. OK?

    However, your belief that Democrats are furious that there aren’t more deaths is pure, unmitigated crap. It is the absolute worst kind of demonization possible. It’s personally offensive, and I am both shocked and truly appalled that a person of your rationality could believe that. I’m not going to “quote Republicans” to prove anything, nor am I going to quote Democrats. That’s completely unnecessary.

    Like most rational people, I try to take people as individuals, not as representatives of some nebulous group. So believe me when I tell you that I am disgusted not with you as a conservative, or as a Republican, but as a person. You owe yourself better.

  • Eileen

    “I can see it quite clearly, and despise demonization from either side, and was trying to carry the conversation forward. OK?”

    “So they ordered the busses on the 31st, and then cancelled it, and it took THREE MORE DAYS to get a request through. That kinda answers the bus question. Don’t blame me for the news – blame the Wall Street Journal.”

    You know what, Greg? Bullshit. Your mischaracterization of that WSJ article says it all. What you say it says doesn’t say what it says at all. Shall I go into obvious details about how you did so? No. Why bother. Everyone here can read.

    I had thought better of you.

  • Eileen

    “If local and state governments hadn’t screwed up, too, I think the downfall of the Bush legacy wouldn’t be Iraq after all, but Katrina.”

    Actually, Jeff, there will be no ‘downfall’ on either count. Didn’t you hear how the President of Iraq today said he thought 50,000 U.S. troops could be withdrawn soon? [Of course that wasn’t on the nightly news.] Now why would that be? And why would anyone in their right mind suggest that the *world’s* intelligence regarding Iraq was wrong, or that we were remiss in assisting a country run by ghouls?

    As for Katrina, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. MSM scored one teeny point re Brown. But soon we’ll actually get *the facts* in spite of them.

    The only downfall here is going to be seen in the last gasps of legacy media and its putrid political machine.

    He who laughs first laughs last.

  • However, your belief that Democrats are furious that there aren’t more deaths is pure, unmitigated crap.

    Let me be very specific, because I have indeed seen this more than once:

    Conservative poster: Thank goodness that the death toll wasn’t as high as predicted.

    Leftist poster: [expletives deleted]

    These people don’t literally wish that there were more deaths, but they are angry that one of their weapons against Bush has been taken away from them, and they have become too transparent about it.

    That is, they have elevated their politics over their concern about lives, one way or another. The rest of us are just happy that not as many people died as feared.

    You can continue to cry “demonization” if you wish, but as I said before, this is abhorrent behavior that I am actually witnessing. I have difficulty finding credibility in the charge, anyway, when the left so often inflexively shouts that their enemies hate black people, want to starve children, and would be happy if old people died… based, again, not on actual behavior but the accepted self-delusion that the enemy is not human.

  • Angelos

    She says that two days after Katrina, desperate for help, she couldn’t get through to Bush and didn’t get a callback; hours later, she tried again, and they talked.

    Barbour hasn’t had to wait hours to talk to Bush. In fact, Barbour said in an interview with USA TODAY, the president called him three to four times in the wake of Katrina. “I never called him. He always called me,” he said.

  • deb

    “John T: Yes. Exactly. Now you get it. Whatever Carter’s faults — and there were many — sloppy response to natural disater wasn’t one of them. ”

    Oh come on, Peoria…. that’s because his ENTIRE term was a disaster!