Brown Blames Everyone…Except Himself

Squeezed September 27, 2005

As you may recall, in the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina, fingers were pointing left and right. Blame the president, blame Gov. Katherine Blanco, blame New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. I remember Nagin’s fiery speech in which he asked the nation to pardon his French.

But in the days that followed, cooler heads prevailed. Nagin toned down his rhetoric, Bush apologized and took responsibility for the federal government’s lack of decisive action, and all sides admitted shortcomings, took on conciliatory tones, and set to work with the rebuilding process.

And then there was Michael Brown.

On the hot seat in Congress, the former FEMA director saw fit not to lavish House members with mea culpas, but rather to angrily blame Nagin, Blanco, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and yes, even the hand that fed him, the Bush White House itself. And of course, blame the media.

I’m not going to go into whether the criticisms leveled against him are valid, or whether his criticisms of Blanco and Nagin are either. But one thing I do know. I’m not a fan of President Bush, but I will give him credit for his speech from the French Quarter in which he accepted the criticisms. Because a mark of a good leader is one who accepts responsibility for the failures of those who report to him, and recognizes that whatever happens to him, he either created, promoted, or allowed. Doing that is necessary (but not sufficient) for being a good leader.

Brown, by choosing to play the blame game, has clearly alienated even many Republicans, most notably Rep. Christopher Shays, who, publicly and on the record, applauded his departure.

If this is reflective on how he ran FEMA during his tenure, I’m not the least bit surprised that the response was substandard.

2 Responses to “Brown Blames Everyone…Except Himself”

  1. RONW Says:

    Re: Bush taking responsibility.

    On that point, I wasn’t sure if Bush wasn’t staging a replay of the Jean Lafayette speech (at least in the “Bucaneer” movie version with Yul Bryner as the swashbuckler), where Lafayette, after aiding Andrew Jackson (Charleston Heston) in winning the battle of New Orleans, took responsibility for the actions of his men, who pirates at heart return to their profession prematurely and looted (2005 Katrina, scene II) the city.

  2. Freshly Squeezed Says:

    Sorry, Mike. Really. I Am.

    Dear Michael Brown: I join The Moderate Voice in apologizing for what I had written in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: Brown, by choosing to play the blame game, has clearly alienated even many Republicans, most notably Rep. Christopher Shays,…

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