6:44 p.m. (CBS) — CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Michael Brown, who recently resigned as the head of the FEMA, has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to evaluate it's response following Hurricane Katrina.
9:05 p.m. (CBS) — Later this evening, CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger spoke with a spokesman for FEMA, Russ Knocke, who confirmed that Brown remains on the FEMA payroll. He also said that technically Brown remains at FEMA as a "contractor" and he is "transitioning out of his job." The reason he will remain at FEMA about a month after his resignation, said the spokesman, is that the agency wants to get the "proper download of his experience."
[Thanks to Trish]
Now, in the abstract, this is not a bad idea, making sure you get the value of an employee's experience before they leave to go elsewhere. In this particular instance, though, one has to think What experience? Brown didn't do anything, that was the entire problem. Clearly, the first pass at an solution for that is to do something.
I assume that the reality is this is a way to keep paying Brown so that Rove can maintain some sort of control over him, until he can find somewhere to dump the guy. Brown showed quite clearly that he has the potential to be a loose cannon who can hurt Bush, and this is a way to keep him under the Rovian thumb.
Update (9/29): I was questioned about what useful purpose Brown could possibly serve to Bush. My response:
His most obvious use to Bush is as the officially designated scapegoat, diverting attention from Bush himself, and Bush's neglect of the DHS. True, Brown is not falling on his sword, but he is still taking a lot of pain to point the finger of blame at the Democratic Governor of Louisiana and Mayor of New Orleans.
I admit I could easily be wrong about it -- it would be better for Rove & Bush if Brown just shut up and went away very, very quietly, and then turned up with a 6 figure position with some GOP lobbyist, but that probably wasn't at all possible under the circumstances, with the public calling for independent inquiry, and the Republicans in Congress feeling like they needed to quell the storm and avoid having any blame turn THEIR way. Some sort of inquiry was needed, some scapegoat HAD to be presented to the public, and Brown is the obvious choice. By continuing to pay him, Rove is able to maintain some semblence of influence over him.
The great Billmon (gee, I really love that guy -- is there anyone out there who's better?) partially agrees, but adds some family history:
Bashing Brownie is the whitewash. Mr. Horse Butt Inspector is now the designated fall guy -- a human biowaste container for disposing of all the Cheney administration's post-Katrina failures. Yesterday's inquisition was about as serious a fact-finding exercise as a Stalinist show trial. Only in a real show trial, a shabbily dressed and unshaven Brownie would have played his role a little better -- groveling and weeping and professing his undying love for the Great Vacationer, even as he confessed to screw ups he hadn't even been accused of.
Maybe they're saving that bit for when Chertoff testifies.
There is precedent for this. Despite the Bush family's feudal reputation for blood loyalty given in exchange for blood loyalty pledged, the clan has been known to sacrifice a retainer or two when it feels it has no choice but to appease the angry mob.
George I, for example, offered the head of his chief of staff, John Sununu, amid the bread riots of 1991. (Supposedly, the future George II was given the job of making sure the head was separated from the shoulders.) In 2002, the son and heir sent SEC Commissioner Harvey Pitt to the guillotine, when it became clear that even in the post-9/11 era, somebody had to take the blame for the looting and pillaging of corporate America.
And when Bushes do betray a faithful (if incompetent) servant, they don't go half way. Once they'd been discarded, Sununu and Pitt were both savaged without pity by the usual unnamed White House sources and their journalistic messenger boys -- although at least they were spared the humiliation of being trashed by their own party hacks in a public show trial. But then Brownie isn't really in the same league. He's only a pawn, and pawns rarely get the same consideration as castles and bishops.
The only real surprise here is that Brownie is putting up such a squawk about it. As a good party man, he should understand how the system works...
Some years back Robert Redford made a great little movie about the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, when Congress was shocked (shocked!) to discover that the contests were rigged, with the winners instructed to lose as soon as their audience appeal started to slip. Near the end of the movie, there's a scene where a bemused network executive explains to the cynical -- but actually quite naive -- chief investigator why a couple of his flunkies went before a House committee and publicly took the fall for the scandal.
I wish I could find the script on line, because it's a wonderful piece of dialogue, but the gist of the network exec's speech is that his flunkies are team players and understand what's expected of them. They'll take some time off, maybe go down to Mexico and relax on the beach for a while, and when enough time has passed and the whole thing's blown over, they'll come back and be quietly rehired -- probably with a higher salary and a nice bonus. No big deal.
If Brownie just put things in the proper longer-term perspective, I think he'd realize his best bet would be to do likewise. Shrub isn't going down over this, and the party, like the network in Quiz Show, won't forget who was a team player when it counted and who wasn't. Elliot Abrams understood how the system works. So did Admiral Poindexter.
Well, one does get the impression that Brown isn't the sharpest arrow in the quiver.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.