Via Andrew Sullivan’s blog I came across this account of a recent talk given by former FEMA director Michael Brown:
Political storm clouds gathered again over the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina as former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown said party politics influenced decisions on whether to take federal control of Louisiana and other areas affected by the hurricane.
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said the partisanship Brown described was “disgusting,” while a White House spokeswoman said Brown was making “false statements.”
Brown told a group of graduate students Friday that some in the White House had suggested the federal government should take charge in Louisiana because Blanco was a Democrat, while leaving Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, in control in his state.
Brown, speaking at the Metropolitan College of New York, said he had recommended to President Bush that all 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast affected by the devastating hurricane be federalized — a term Brown explained as placing the federal government in charge of all agencies responding to the disaster.
“Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking, ‘We had to federalize Louisiana because she’s a white, female Democratic governor, and we have a chance to rub her nose in it,’” he said, without naming names. “’We can’t do it to Haley (Barbour) because Haley’s a white male Republican governor. And we can’t do a thing to him. So we’re just gonna federalize Louisiana.’”
Incredible. No matter how sleazy and vile you think this administration is, the reality is so much worse.
The article goes on to present Gov. Blanco’s reaction to these words:
“This is exactly what we were living but could not bring ourselves to believe. Karl Rove was playing politics while our people were dying,” Blanco said through a spokeswoman, referring to Bush’s top political strategist. “The federal effort was delayed, and now the public knows why. It’s disgusting.”
Meanwhile, White House spokesperson Eryn Witcher offered this response:
“It is unfortunate that Mike Brown is still hurling false statements about the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina,” she said. “The only consideration made by the administration at the time of this tragedy and since are those in the best interests of the citizens of the Gulf region.”
So we have one side saying the Bush administration was motivated by partisan political considerations and another saying they cared only about the well-being of the people. Which version do you find more credible?