Michael Brown was trying to explain the scope of the disaster facing New Orleans to President Bush when Bush cut the discussion short to meet with the press.In fact, he had been holding something back for a while before the storm:
That’s when Bush uttered the famous quote — “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” — that caused Brown to pale.
“You just said I was doing a heck of a job, when I know things are going to heck in a handbasket,” Brown recalled thinking. “It’s a nickname he gave me a long, long time ago when I first met him.”
Brown blames himself for not speaking up when he saw how dysfunctional the state and local governments were in the face of disaster.
“I should have talked about how things weren’t working in Louisiana,” Brown said. “It would have been the right thing to do.”
Before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 25, 2005, Brown said he was ready to quit his position at FEMA because Congress and the administration would not plan for such disasters.I can’t argue there.
He planned to resign as chief of FEMA on the day after Labor Day 2005, he said.
“I didn’t leave soon enough,” Brown said.