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September 09, 2005

A fast exit from the stage

In the old "vaudeville" days they called this, "the hook." When the comic was bombing the manager would use a great long hook to yank him off the stage before the audience got too unruly.

The old tradition was put to use in a similar circumstance today. The Fed's comedian on the scene in New Orleans was very rapidly dragged away from the worlds new cameras and stashed in a lonely office in Washington. According to the press conference, Michael Brown will be thinking about "future disasters." It's like when the coach is replaced mid-season, but not "fired" since he will stay on the work on preparation for the draft. Brown was not given an opportunity to speak at the conference, which demonstrates that Micheal Chertoff is a quick learner.

That he is being replaced in New Orleans by an experienced Admiral is also a sign that folks are beginning to "get it" in Washington. If FEMA who some are now remembering, has never been all that fabulous an institution, is really going to be "emergency managers", it must be structured and led very differently that other government agencies. The military forces are different from other government agencies for a reason.

What will be interesting is the interface between the new Federal presence, now led by two very dynamic and authoritative military leaders, and the state agencies, led by .... well... a different sort of person. The folks in state government are caught in a bit of a bind, at the moment. General Honore and Admiral Allen will be on the streets and giving daily press briefings right down there where the action is. They are likely to do whatever they need to d to fix things and send a note out to Baton Rouge asking for permission after the fact. They will not hide this from the reporters. We'll all see lives being saved and restored by the bold action of these leaders.

Now the state authorities will either provide the post-facto approval, weakening their tenuous hold on authority in the state, or they will try to make trouble for the guys who are doing the heroics on camera. Either way, they lose. They're only hope if to get down there and lead from the front, except that I have yet to see anyone from the State government even close to being capable of that. They are all cut from the Michael Brown pattern. The Mayor of New Orleans has a chance to rebuild his reputation a bit if he hangs very close to Honore and mimics his actions. The president of Jefferson Parish, Aaron Broussard, has been a flurry of activity, despite being a lifetime politician, and will probably fit in well with Allen and Honore.

Posted by Jay on September 9, 2005 at 01:44 PM | Permalink

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The Radical Centrist blog writes: "The old tradition [of vaudeville] was put to use in a similar circumstance today. The Fed's comedian on the scene in New Orleans was very rapidly dragged away from the worlds new cameras and stashed in a lonely offi... [Read More]

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