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you did a heck of a job, indeed


if former fema director michael brown wasn't acting like such a pompous ass, i think i would be starting to feel sorry for him.

today new orleans congressional representative charlie melancon published a number of emails sent by brown during the crisis following hurricane katrina in order to illustrate exactly how much of a tool the guy is. the emails are stupid and boorish, with him asking questions about the appropriate attire for his television appearances and how he could "tweak" his organisation's disastrous response.

the emails are very effective in proving that brown was tragically wrong for the position, although they hardly do a better job of discrediting him than he's done himself. here's the issue that i have with publishing them, though: most of us occasionally say and do things that are inappropriate. if we're smart, we keep these comments off email, but even spoken comments can be overheard. i like to think for myself, and for others, that we have some inborn instinct that will stop us precisely at the point when we are about to cross the line into purely offensive, but even assuming that is mostly true, we sometimes cross the line without meaning to. some people don't have that instinct at all. calling brown out for his admittedly insensitive comments doesn't prove he's worse than most of us, although they may prove that he's not the brightest candle on the birthday cake for sending these brain farts out for others to read and preserve for use against him.

by concentrating on the failures of michael brown, i'm worried that the larger point will be lost. a man like him has no business being at the head of an emergency response organisation, because that is precisely where it is going to be important to have someone who is smart and sympathetic and focused in a crisis. what happened in new orleans is sad but rather than looking to blame the guy who resigned, there should be an effort to analyse the process by which a professionally and personally inappropriate candidate ends up in a position of such importance.

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