Washington Wire was a little stunned to receive a press release today hawking disgraced former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown as “available for interviews” to discuss the wildfire crisis in Southern California.
Brown, who became the face of government mismanagement following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was ultimately forced out of the job following a national uproar, is now director of corporate strategy for Cotton Cos., a “leading provider of disaster recovery services,” according to the release. It’s a regular practice in Washington for companies and public relations firms to promote their internal experts to the media for interviews on the issues of the day.
Whether Brown is an expert on disaster preparedness is open for debate. “Mr. Brown can speak to the turmoil being caused by the California wildfires as well as to some of the new processes in disaster relief efforts that will help to restore California communities. He can offer advice to residents and businesses on proper relief and recovery efforts and provide suggestions for future disaster preparedness,” the press release states.
In a particularly nervy move, the release also draws parallels between the California fires and the 2005 hurricane that devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast — and tagged then-FEMA Director Brown as incompetent and unqualified. “Currently, the brush fires are affecting hundreds of local businesses and have forced more than 500,000 people out of their homes. Of these 500,000 people, an estimated 10,000 of them have taken shelter at the local NFL stadium, Qualcomm, vaguely reminiscent of circumstances of Hurricane Katrina evacuees two years ago.”
Brown, who never worked in disaster preparedness before he was chosen for the FEMA job by President Bush, had this to say: “The agency has learned some hard lessons regarding the handling of mass evacuations especially in regard to the bureaucratic red tape that is involved in such a process.” He went on, “This is a tragic time for many of the people of California, and Cotton Companies is working to ensure that normalcy is restored and that businesses and organizations are back up and running as soon as possible.”
Commenter KDM has this gem to add: "This would be like Larry Craig making himself available as an expert on meeting new friends. Sort of the Dale Carnegie of the men’s room."
The jokes write themselves. Thanks to the Bush administration, we're all Jay Leno now.