Michael Brown, who gained infamy for his direction of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina under President George W. Bush, has weighed in on President Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy.
Brown, about whom Bush famously declared, “you’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie” — though media reports of the anguish of hurricane victims, and later assessments of the federal response as directed by FEMA, which Brown headed proved Bush wrong. In fact, Brown stepped down as the head of FEMA in the wake of the universally panned Katrina response.
That hasn’t stopped him from commenting about the current disaster response in the wake of the devastation along the East Coast by Sandy. ThinkProgress reports:
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.
The Obama administration’s response, and the president himself, received better reviews from at least one Republican whose state has been directly impacted by the storm. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie praised the president for his personal contact with him during the storm, and his leadership.