"Out of Touch." Are there better words to describe the current state of affairs in the Bush administration? The Harriet Meiers "Why not pick someone without any experience to sit on the highest court of the land?" experience continues a string of deadly misfires for a group of college chums that are showing their true and despicable colors.
A case in point: The FEMA e-mails of Michael "Brownie" Brown. First things first - as nicknames go, "Brownie" is as lame as they come. It makes "Scooter" look positively arcane by comparison. Maybe it has to do with the color of his nose. That aside, it behooves us all to pause a moment and gasp as a nation united at the unmitigated gall of this former (gee, what do you have to do to get fired around this place?) director of FEMA. Last month at a Senate hearing, Marty Bahamonde, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's only employee in New Orleans when Katrina struck Aug. 29, said he e-mailed Brown on Aug. 31, "Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical ... many will die." Brown replied, "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?" Hey Brownie, tweak this.
Aug. 29, 7:19 a.m., Cindy Taylor, FEMA deputy director of public affairs to Brown, about his shirt as he appeared on NBC's Today: "My eyes must certainly be deceiving me. You look fabulous - and I'm not talking the makeup." Brown, 7:52 a.m.: "I got it at Nordsstroms ... Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?" I'm only guessing that he looked better than he did when he was sitting in front of the Senate inquiry, whining and squirming in his chair. That wasn't makeup either.
Brown's press secretary sent him this advice: "Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt, all shirts. Even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow. In this [crisis] and on TV you just need to look more hard-working." A triumph of form over function!
And now, the kicker: Brown is still on the federal payroll at his $148,000 annual salary. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, saying Brown's expertise was needed as he investigated what went wrong, agreed to a 30-day extension when Brown resigned. Chertoff renewed that extension in mid-October. So, don't shed any tears for Brownie - he won't have to be buying any suits off the Nordsstrom's Rack anytime soon.