A day after criticizing President Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy in a Denver Westword interview, former FEMA Director Michael Brown clarified his comments Tuesday on a radio show he co-hosts with David Sirota. Pressed on his criticisms, Brown explained that he had no substantive objection to the Obama administration’s emergency management, but felt he missed out on a political opportunity.
Brown suggested that Obama could have taken more political advantage from the hurricane to squeeze “more mileage out of” the tragedy:
The President should have just—he could have just made a comment while he was in Florida that says, “you know my FEMA director is on top of this and we’re gonna do everything we can when the states ask us to come in and help.” Boom. …
He would have been better served politically to let everybody else—Bloomberg, Christie, Cuomo, O’Donnell [sic] – all of them make whatever statements they were going to make. Call for their evacuations. And then he could have stepped up, very presidentially, and said “And by the way, I have instructed my FEMA director to give the states whatever they need as the storm approaches.” I think he would have gotten more mileage out of it. In other words, he peaked too soon.
When asked by Sirota whether he had any substantive criticism of the Obama administration’s response, however, Brown replied “the answer is: no, I don’t.”
Listen to the interview here:
The administration may be unlikely to take political advice from Brown, given his role in the Hurricane Katrina debacle in 2005. As director of FEMA during the legendarily botched response, Brown, famously dubbed “Brownie” by President George W. Bush, was in the center of criticism from both sides of the aisle that the Bush administration was too slow to respond. An internal review by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector-General following the disaster concluded, “Much of the criticism is warranted.” Brown resigned from his position as director less than two weeks after Katrina hit. Roughly two thirds of Americans felt the Bush administration responded too slowly to the Hurricane and its aftermath.