Former FEMA Director Michael Brown offered criticism of President Obama’s early responses to Hurricane Sandy yesterday, including a dig at the administration’s response to last month’s attack in Libya.
Yesterday, ahead of the storm’s pummeling of the eastern seaboard, Brown gave an interview to the local alternative paper, the Denver Westword, on how he believed the Obama administration was responding to Sandy too quickly and that Obama had spoken to the press about Sandy’s potential effect too early.
Brown turned then to a reliable right-wing attack on the President’s response to the attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi that killed four Americans:
“One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?” Brown says. “Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”
Conservatives have been hitting Obama for weeks on his attendance at a fundraiser in Nevada following the assault in Benghazi, claiming at alternate times that the President either cared more about politics than lives lost or that he was trying to downplay the attack’s significance. Now the critique has mutated into a belief that Obama is currently “playing President” to score points during disaster relief in the run-up to the election, in contrast to his actions in September.
Brown is not the only one making the insinuation that Obama and his administration are responding too quickly to Sandy only for political reasons. He’s joined in his accusations by such prominent right-wing commentators as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and columnist Charles Krauthammer.
However, Brown’s comments carry a special irony due to the role he played during the Hurricane Katrina debacle in 2005. As director of FEMA during the legendarily botched response, Brown, famously dubbed “Brownie” by President 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.