Returning from Seoul, South Korea, recently I had an email from Jason Salzman, a name that was vaguely familiar to me, but one that I couldn't quite put my finger on in my mental Rolodex. He wrote:
Message: Hi Michael --
I\'m a blogger in Denver and former media critic for the Rocky Mountain News.
I notice that in the intro to your radio show, you play the clip of George W. Bush saying you were doing a \"heck of a job\" during Katrina.
Why do you play this? Were you not later pushed out of the White House as a result of your response to Katrina?
I wouldn\'t think you\'d be proud of the \"heck of a job\" comment by Bush.
So, I\'m wondering, for a blog post about you, why you run the line in your intro.
I responded by telling Mr. Salzman that I would get him a non-jet lagged response later. I never did after I re-read the email and my neurons connected Mr. Salzman with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that, regardless of the facts, will never treat me objectively.
I wasn't surprised to see that Mr. Salzman took great pains to cross-post a blog entry entitled "Heck of a Job Brownie Blames Katrina Victims" to various liberal outlets, including The Huffington Post, for which I have occasionally written but realized that most liberals aren't interested in a reasonable, factual discussion.
Salzman wrote in typical hatred fashion: "sadly enough...[Michael Brown] is easily the most famous media figure in Colorado."
Really? Says who? What does it matter? And if it is true, why is it sad? To progressives like Salzman it really isn't "sad" that I might be the most famous media figure in Colorado - it gives them great pleasure for now they have a target on the conservative side of the aisle they can attack. It gives Jason Salzman something to write about that makes him feel superior, better than others, while pointing out how "sad" it is that I might be, at least in his mind, the most famous media figure in Colorado.
Yes, George W. Bush famously, and incongruously, uttered those famous words, "you're doing a heck of a job, Brownie" during a tour of damage in the Gulf Coast in 2005. I address the circumstances of that famous phrase in my book, Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm, Rowman & Littlefield, and Taylor Trade, 2011. You can read the entire story beginning at page 148 of the book, something that I'm sure Mr. Salzman has not done.
What does Mr. Salzman want me to do since that infamous backhanded compliment from September 2, 2005? He wants me to "run from it...move on and avoid your past, like you couldn't do if you were a two-bit historical figure like, say, Robert Bork."
Mr. Salzman is, indeed, a gifted writer. He manages to argue that I should slither away, despite having done nothing illegal or morally wrong, and compares me to one of the great legal jurists of our time, Robert Bork, calling him a two-bit historical figure.
The hatred of the left is astonishing. When you refuse to "run from" or "avoid" your past, you then become a two-bit or "worthless" historical figure. But if we ran from our past, then who would Mr. Salzman attack with his writings?
Why would I run from my past? I ably and honorably served the President of the United States. Did we make mistakes? Certainly. Have those mistakes been admitted? Yes, if you paid attention to the facts of what occurred during Hurricane Katrina as opposed to the media template they would want you to believe.
Salzman asks in his essay, "is [he] proud of his claim to fame?" Jason, it doesn't make any difference whether I am proud of the President's phrase or not. It will stick with me for the rest of my life, giving people like you ample opportunity to continue to "blame Bush" for the ills of the world, regardless of the occupant of the White House. I am proud of my time at Homeland Security and FEMA.
Finally, Salzman says that I blame the victims of Hurricane Katrina for something, never stating what I blame them for, but intimating that they were at fault for something. Let me make clear for you, Mr. Salzman, that the federal government had no authority to evacuate New Orleans. Perhaps you don't understand federalism, or the Posse Comitatus Act, or the Insurrection Act. If people failed to, or were incapable of, evacuating New Orleans, that is not the fault of George W. Bush, Michael Brown, Homeland Security or FEMA. Perhaps you ought to do some studying before saying that I "blame" victims for whatever it is you claim I blame them.
Meanwhile, I will continue to use the President's phrase during the show open, including sound bites from the television show Gray's Anatomy and others, who like to use my name for their own purposes. And just to irritate those who are mad that I won't slink away, here is an MP3 of it for you to listen to and enjoy.