Thursday, October 06, 2005


Losing Hearts & Miers: The Michael Brown Factor

The full impact of the political damage the Bush White House took with its inept initial response to Katrina is now starkly apparent. Since it has been the metaphor of the last month, let's continue it.

For President Bush,
the last levee has collapsed.

While conservatives had no problem in dismissing -- rightly -- the accusations from Jesse Jackson, the Congressional Black Caucus and others that the administration acted slowly because of racism, the existence of FEMA's Michael Brown made visible on the right something that previously only the left had raged about -- this administration's willingness to value political patronage as its highest qualification.

As The Washington Post says, "The main complaints cited at the Norquist and Weyrich sessions yesterday, according to several accounts, centered on Miers's lack of track record and the charge of cronyism."

Prior to the Katrina revelation that five of the top eight FEMA officials were political appointees with no experience in natural disaster control, the word "crony" and "cronyism" was most likely to pop up on a left-wing blog screaming about Halliburton contracts.

Yet, note the language from
Right Wing News, Michelle Malkin (to her credit, Malkin led the right-wing revolt against Michael Brown), Power Line, Professor Bainbridge and the superb Randy Barnett (who puts the issue into stunning historical perspective).

Could such arguments be made against Miers absent the Katrina/Brown fiasco?

Sure, but the language and anger would have been much more restrained. Indeed, the criticism may have focused more on the "diversity pick" angle.

Instead, as Katrina exposed th weakness of both the New Orleans levees and the Louisiana political system, the FEMA staffing exposed the cronyism problem in this administration. It is now so visible that conservatives can't ignore it.

And George W. Bush has a far more difficult hurricane to withstand -- gathering strength on his right flank.

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