Psychiatrists have a polite term for what ordinary language calls “going bonkers” or “losing it”: that process is technically called “decompensation.”
It looks to me as if the Bush Administration is decompensating.
I simply can’t construct a plausible justification for leaving Michael “Helluva Job Brownie” Brown as the head of FEMA while virtually admitting that he’s not actually capable of coordinating the federal response to Katrina by putting one of his subordinates in charge. What is the job of the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency if not to manage emergencies?
If someone — say, the still-at-large Osama bin Laden — decides to celebrate the fourth anniversary of 9/11 with some appalling atrocity, will still a third official be designated to run the necessary disaster-relief process?
Of course, the Bushites have made other decisions equally incomprehensible in policy terms, and not only gotten away with them but benefitted from them polticially. My diagnosis of decompensation is based on the fact that this choice doesn’t (seem to) make any conceivable sense in political terms.
Footnote Of course, Brown should lose his job, because losing your job is what’s supposed to happen when (1) you weren’t competent to have the job in the first place; (2) you lie about your qualifications; and (3) you utterly and completely screw up a major assignment. That’s called “accountability.” (If we truly had a President with the sensibility of a CEO rather than that of lazy, spoiled, party-hardy frat boy, he’d know that without needing to be told.)
But critics of the current ruling oligarchy shouldn’t concentrate on Brown’s deficiencies and on demands that he be replaced. He’s an important symbol of what’s wrong with FEMA, but the problems at FEMA are much deeper. And the problems at FEMA are themselves just a random sample of what’s wrong with this administration. A fish rots from the head.