by Kevin Allman
In the meantime, though, Brownie's hustling his Silent-But-Deadly Indifference at the American Library Association convention here in New Orleans later this month, and squeezing in a couple of booksignings at Garden District Book Shop (June 24) and Maple Street Book Shop (June 25).
If you want to save $24.95, Paul Bedard of US News & World Report has read the book and synthesizes the salient points:
His book portrays Bush as a leader too removed from day-to-day realities and as a “fratboy who wanted everybody to like him.”
For example, he writes that Bush thought Brown could take care of the hurricane easily since he had done so the year before in Florida, which got hit by four big storms. “To George Bush, everything was under control, he had me, someone who was experienced in dealing with hurricanes, who was respected by his brother for his work in Florida,” pens Brown. “He would think to himself, ‘It’s a hurricane. FEMA/Brown will take care of it.’ That was why it took him extra time to realize that this hurricane and its aftermath was a disaster on a far greater scale than anything else that occurred while he was president.”
He also raps Bush for acting with a business-as-usual attitude after the storm hit, holding a birthday party for Arizona Sen. John McCain, then attending a baseball game in San Diego. Brown also notes that then Gov. Kathleen Blanco urgently asked Bush for “everything you’ve got” as the killer storm passed, but Bush “went to bed without acting.”
This is certainly welcome news for Blanco; regardless of her strengths and weaknesses as a governor, she's spent years battling the revisionist canard that she never filed a formal request for help — a complete falsehood.
More on the Bushes:
Brown adds that the callousness of Washington toward Katrina victims was highlighted when former first lady Barbara Bush, talking about displaced Louisianans in Texas’s Astrodome, said, “So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged, anyway, so this, this is working very well for them.”
Pens Brown: “The president and his family are not unlike European royalty. They can live privileged lives isolated from the cares and concerns of the public. Like royalty, though, they are expected to go among the people and do good work, especially after leaving office.”
Brown's assessment of himself:
In the blame game, though, Brown does point at himself. First, he notes that he wasn’t as forceful with Bush about trying to get FEMA power when he had a chance before the disaster. Second, he said that it’s difficult to be a disaster boss. “The position I held within the government is not one for which anyone can train. My appointment came at a time when we were living with what might be called the certainty of the uncertain,” he wrote.
The "certainty of the uncertain." Ah. Insights like that are beyond price, so we'll skip buying the book. But Michael Brown coming to New Orleans to hawk a self-serving biography is certainly a unique promotional strategy. If this keeps up, we'll look forward to Tony Hayward signing his memoirs on an offshore drilling platform, using a quill from an oiled pelican.