Now, I know it must be difficult to respond to something like Katrina, especially when your agency isn't given a lot of funding by the bloated and ill-conceived monster known as Homeland Security. Still, Brown's hypocrisy is tangible here. He was obviously fiddling while Rome burned, but now he's trying to plant the bow on someone -- anyone -- else.
At one point early that morning, Brown reported to an aide that he was "sitting in the chair, putting mousse in my hair" while waiting for media interviews to begin.
A few hours later, at 9:50 a.m., a FEMA staffer at the National Hurricane Center sent department brass an alert from a local TV station report that "a levee breach occurred along the industrial canal" near the city's low-income Ninth Ward.
But at 12:09 p.m., Brown dismissed the report and suggested that the situation wasn't so bad. "I'm being told here water over not a breach," he said, referring to floodwaters which had overrun -- but not broken -- the levees.
The aide, Michael Lowder, replied: "Ok. You probably have better info there. Just wanted to pass you what we hear."
Brown did not immediately respond to messages left on his cell phone and e-mail Tuesday.
Since quitting FEMA on Sept. 12, Brown has sharply criticized the Bush administration for failing to respond quickly to reports about levee breaches. He has said previously he was convinced of a levee breach by 1 p.m. the day Katrina roared ashore.
To me, that's a pretty good definition of cowardice.