Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Political Post!

With the Foley scandal and North Korean nuclear test dominating the news, much of the blogosphere (okay, the four blogs I looked at) seems to have missed this story from over the weekend. (Italics mine.)
President Bush reserved the right to ignore key changes in Congress's overhaul of the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- including a requirement to appoint someone with experience handling disasters as the agency's head -- in setting aside dozens of provisions contained in a major homeland security spending bill this week.
The standards for the FEMA director were inspired by criticism of former FEMA chief Michael D. Brown's performance after Hurricane Katrina last year. Brown, a lawyer and judge of Arabian horses, had no experience in disaster response before joining FEMA.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the actions, first reported by the Associated Press, upheld the president's right to choose his advisers and control executive branch activities.

"There's nothing new here. The president has the authority to choose which of his subordinate officers he'll rely on," Fratto said. "The president has the authority to determine what the relationship is between them."
A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), who chaired a House Katrina investigation, said the White House is slighting Congress and ignoring the political toll of Brown's incompetence and ties to GOP cronies.

"Davis hopes the White House isn't saying they don't understand the need for minimal qualifications, or that they might bypass them. If indeed they are, then we haven't come very far from the days of 'Heck of a job, Brownie,'" Davis spokesman David Marin said, in a reference to Bush's early praise for Brown. "Good luck getting someone confirmed who doesn't meet these standards."
*Sigh* Obviously, he's learned nothing from Katrina. Even though Brown's handling of the situation was an unmitigated disaster, Bush still doesn't recognize the importance of appointing someone with actual emergency-response experience to the most important emergency-response post in the country. Hopefully this time around, Congress won't let him get away with it if he tries to appoint another unqualified crony. If they do, I fear what will happen if the country is hit with another major disaster or terrorist attack.