Thursday, September 08, 2005


Paul Campos has a good and disturbing profile of FEMA director Michael Brown, a man who, very much like the president who appointed him, has shown an uncanny knack for falling up (via Andrew Sullivan).
When Brown left the IAHA (International Arabian Horse Association) four years ago, he was, among other things, a failed former lawyer--a man with a 20-year-old degree from a semi-accredited law school who hadn't attempted to practice law in a serious way in nearly 15 years and who had just been forced out of his job in the wake of charges of impropriety. At this point in his life, returning to his long-abandoned legal career would have been very difficult in the competitive Colorado legal market. Yet, within months of leaving the IAHA, he was handed one of the top legal positions in the entire federal government: general counsel for a major federal agency. A year later, he was made its number-two official, and, a year after that, Bush appointed him director of fema.

It's bad enough when attorneys are named to government jobs for which their careers, no matter how distinguished, don't qualify them. But Brown wasn't a distinguished lawyer: He was hardly a lawyer at all. When he left the IAHA, he was a 47-year-old with a very thin resumé and no job. Yet he was also what's known in the Mafia as a "connected guy." That such a person could end up in one of the federal government's most important positions tells you all you need to know about how the Bush administration works--or, rather, doesn't.

Darn right. The danger here with singling Brown out so vociferously is that Bush may be able to sacrifice him to silence critics, without people ever realizing how common this sort of cronyism is.

Brown should still go, of course.

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