Friday, January 30, 2009

Still digging through Oral History

This, to me, is the total money quote. My jaw dropped. Emphasis is all mine:

Michael Brown, director of fema [sic], which becomes part of the Department of Homeland Security: Bush’s strength was—he would say to everybody in the room, Tell me what the problem is and I’ll make a decision. The detrimental aspect of that is the president would make a decision and in his mind it was over with. There was no changing course. The blinders are on. You had to work incredibly hard to get back in front of that line of sight to say, We need to take a different tack here.

I’m asked at one point for my input, and I basically say we should not have a Department of Homeland Security, because it’s going to be disruptive to create it in the midst of all of these things going on. [Later,] I remember being in the car alone with Bush, where I’m talking to him about the department and how it’s not working and how we really need to make some changes. And while I thought he may have been listening, I quickly came to the conclusion that he wasn’t, because his answer to it was: Well, we’re bringing in a new leader, a new secretary or deputy secretary, and he’ll be able to fix all these things.

He had made the decision, and we’re going forward. And if things aren’t working, we don’t need to revisit the original decision. We’ll just put somebody else in there.

David Kuo: Every time you had a conversation with him, he would make it clear the subject was important. Bush would say, I care about this. Let’s get this done. But it was like a ship whose wheel is not attached to the rudder.

I'm speechless. I'm absolutely just--I mean--this is the opposite of leadership, all right?

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