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Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Apostasy of Michael Brown

I didn't expect my post about Michael Brown to cause as much controversy as it did. But it got a conversation going that I think is actually quite interesting so I'd like to carry it a bit further.

Josh Marshall is right -- the release of the new tapes show simply that Brown cared about what was going on, was aware of the potential danger of Katrina and tried to do something to address it. It does not absolve him from a host of other sins we've all devoted much time to documenting from the time Katrina hit. And as Atrios notes, his current candor does not make Brown a hero. It would have been heroic to step up at the time and tell the public what was happening, at a time when it could have made a difference. That didn't happen.

And as Digby notes, Michael Brown really didn't have many other options. He was so thoroughly discredited, so completely goated by BushCo. that he didn't have much alternative but to turn on them if he wanted to have a future at all as anything other than the guy who forever fucked New Orleans.

Still, his current actions took some nerve. The kind of nerve people quite frequently can't muster on their own and are much more likely to discover when they know they have people who will back them. Which raises an interesting point of speculation.

As a veteran of many PR trench warfare campaigns, I can tell you that the first thing I would've done once it became apparent that BushCo. was going to throw him under the bus would be to go after Brownie. If I was, say, a big politician who had been targeted by the GOP and lost my seat, or was given to a pugilistic bent, or had an axe to grind over any high-profile Rovian rat-fuck delivered by BushCo. over the years I would've looked at the Katrina disaster, recognized that it was the single worst blow to George Bush's credibility in the public mind and gone immediately to work on the guy who had the potential to deliver me a blue dress moment.

I have no knowledge of what actually happened but the push to rehabilitate Brown does have, at moments, something of an organized feel (particularly the superb timing). And right now, Brown has the ability to do what no other person can -- keep Bush's Katrina inadequacies in the headlines, kicking him when he's down and damaging his poll numbers such that it both paralyzes him and emboldens his opponents.

None of which can work, mind you, if nobody is willing to listen to Brown's story. That Bush let someone with the goods on him get so far out of the fold is an incredibly stupid mistake; Brownie above all others should've been kitted up with some cushy job and bankrolled to into abject silence. It was an outrageous stumble on the part of a beleaguered and embattled administration, one I'm more than willing to take advantage of.

So if you're still speaking, Michael Brown, I'm all ears.