09/04/2005 05:30 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Country Club Republicans Can't Run FEMA, The Department of Homeland Security or the White House

I love the fact that the Administration buried FEMA director Michael Brown's 11 years as Executive Director of the Arabian Horse Association of America. He was just an quiet trust and estate lawyer in Colorado during that time, according to his official Administration bio.

That this qualified him to enter FEMA as its General Counsel was bad enough but to make him FEMA Director 5 years later is quite a leap of faith, even for the callous cynics in the White House Personnel Office. Of course, 3 years ago the same White House office tried to engineer the appointment the Vatican's Honorary United Nations Ambassador, John Klink, to a key post in the State Department in charge of all population, family planning and refugee programs. (Mercifully Klink's proposed nomination had to have Senate approval and quickly fell apart with quiet help from an appalled State Department.)

Brown's FEMA directorship was folded into the Department of Homeland Security without any re-evaluation of him or his depleted senior staff.

President Clinton's superb FEMA director, James Lee Witt, once boasted that he could get a hold of Clinton even if he was having sex if it involved a national emergency. In fact, I wish Clinton WAS having sex two days ago instead of standing next to President Bush and his father defending the Administration's pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina actions. Sometimes Clinton acts like HE wants to be a Country Club Republican -- lusting after rich friends, celebrities, private jets, money...privilege.

The problem goes beyond Michael Brown at FEMA, Michael Chertoff at Homeland Security, the vacationing troika of Bush, Cheney and White Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and others. Where was the Red Cross in downtown New Orleans? In a rare moment of candor, the equally inexperienced (direct from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America) Red Cross CEO, Marty Evans, admitted to Larry King on CNN that the Red Cross does not provide rescue services and only works in pre-designated shelters under FEMA command. (She left out only that the Red Cross also receives full government reimbursement for those services and really does not need the $200 million++ it has already collected from the American people.)

What we're in is a period of vulnerability overlain with a cadre of vastly underperforming, ill-equipped people running both our country and our disaster relief efforts.