Obama Responded to Sandy too Quickly, Says Failed FEMA Director

Written by Hayes Brown

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown offered criticism of President Obama’s early responses to Hurricane Sandy yesterday, including a dig at the administration’s response to last month’s attack in Libya.

Yesterday, ahead of the storm’s pummeling of the eastern seaboard, Brown gave an interview to the local alternative paper, the Denver Westword, on how he believed the Obama administration was responding to Sandy too quickly and that Obama had spoken to the press about Sandy’s potential effect too early.

Brown turned then to a reliable right-wing attack on the President’s response to the attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi that killed four Americans:

“One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?” Brown says. “Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”

Conservatives have been hitting Obama for weeks on his attendance at a fundraiser in Nevada following the assault in Benghazi, claiming at alternate times that the President either cared more about politics than lives lost or that he was trying to downplay the attack’s significance. Now the critique has mutated into a belief that Obama is currently “playing President” to score points during disaster relief in the run-up to the election, in contrast to his actions in September.

Brown is not the only one making the insinuation that Obama and his administration are responding too quickly to Sandy only for political reasons. He’s joined in his accusations by such prominent right-wing commentators as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and columnist Charles Krauthammer.

However, Brown’s comments carry a special irony due to the role he played during the Hurricane Katrina debacle in 2005. As director of FEMA during the legendarily botched response, Brown, famously dubbed “Brownie” by President Bush, was in the center of criticism from both sides of the aisle that the Bush administration was too slow to respond. An internal review by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector-General following the disaster concluded, “Much of the criticism is warranted.” Brown resigned from his position as director less than two weeks after Katrina hit.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


Related Stories:

Could Hurricane Sandy Tip the Election?

Top 6 Images of Hurricane Sandy’s Destruction

Anti-LGBT Minister: Sandy is God’s Judgement on Gays


Photo of President George W. Bush and Michael Brown: Wikimedia Commons


Beth M.
Beth M5 years ago

Sounds like sour grapes.

Leah h.
Leah H5 years ago

Brownie - now there is a guy who could never be accused of getting to a disaster "too quickly". Ask anyone in New Orleans.

Cletus W.
Cletus W.5 years ago

Ahhhh, all the rightwingers with their panties in a bunch yet again. Sure is nice to see that.

This time its about the no-brainer decision by the executive to help people in distress.

Boy, how exasperating for the rightwingers that those godless [D]s can call up a hurricane at will!!!!

And, to make it even better, all the chest thumping and crotch-adjusting by the slack-jaws is a sure sign that Obama got it just right.

What a bunch of regressive-gened rightwing drama queens. Brownie, Newt, Krauthammer....now there's a sucessful crew....all doing the Etch-a-Sketch's dirty work.

I'm at a loss for how people could FAIL the IQ test this Tues., but millions of slack-jawed morons will. Unbelievable.

Harriet Bickel
Harriet Bickel5 years ago

LOL ..........even George Bush found Brown lacking after Brown headed up FEMA during Hurricane Katrina.....the reason he has not risen any higher in politics is that he is a total incompetent.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown5 years ago

Deborah W. you are not "wondering" anything. You are just a mindless Obama-hater making up lies. New Jersey is not a "swing" state and President Obama is a caring and compassionate man who would have done everything in his power to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, to infer anything else is simple libelous.

Mary D.
Mary d5 years ago

Deborah W.,

Your ignorance is showing. How sad to know so little, blinded by partisanship. FEMA director, Craig Fugate, well experienced in hurricane relief efforts, reports directly to Obama, placing FEMA in position to respond quickly in cooperation with a hands-on president. As it is, so many people were impacted, it will take awhile to help them all. No doubt the right-wingers will blame Obama for the extent of the crises.

Brown was a shill, a political appointee with no experience in handling disasters, had a convoluted reporting system -- reporting to Homeland Security instead of directly to hands-off President Bush -- the guy who continued reading a children's book when the Towers were struck by terrorists.

Mary D.
Mary d5 years ago

Romney's campaign -- oops, I mean disaster relief photo op was priceless.

Yet again, this moron, who wants to lead our country, failed to fact check, making it clear that he has never lifted a finger to help people harmed by natural disaster. If he had, he'd have known the Red Cross always requests monetary contributions so it can buy what is needed as opposed to wasting time in storing and sorting through stacks of goods in determining what can and cannot be used. Those of us who consistently contribute to relief funds know how it works.

Gee, Romney's so phony that his aide told people who came to his his campaign event empty handed to take something from the pile of donations and pretend they're donating -- oops again, his relief event. LOL.

Nothing like voting for a greedy SOB, who consistently proves he's phone through and through. Then again half the nation evidently approves of lying con men or we wouldn't have the Tea Party in charge of Congress. Speaking of the TP, haven't any of its members noticed that Ryan, Cantor, Walsh, etc., are more than happy to have socialistic, platinum health coverage courtesy of us -- the taxpayers.

5 years ago

I wonder what Brownie...who was shamed by his lack of action...... thinks of Mitt's plant to eliminate FEMA and all federal assistance to favor a small amount of state assistance, and lean heavily on the private sector in emergencies.

The private sector is part of what gets damaged in a disaster...and then there's gouging by those in the private sector who CAN help
Volunteer agencies like the Red Cross etc can't help people rebuild their lives financially...they're only managing to get them used clothing and emergency supplies to hold them over for a short interim.

What do these conservatives plan to do when THEIR houses get washed away by a hurricane or gobbled up by an earthquake...and they don't happen to have $125million like Mitt?
Perhaps they should opt out of ACCEPTING federal assistance if they think it's such a waste of tax money!
Perhaps if the rich republicans had a conscience, they could opt to refuse to accept Medicare so it could help the people who really need it!

My multi millionaire republican friend is so thrilled to have reached 65 and get Social Security and Medicare ...it's making me see a greedy part of her that is causing me to re-evaluate the friendship. She has enough money to buy a hospital, and is anxious to get her social security check and use Medicare! It gives me pause.....

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle5 years ago

Awesome, so Brownie and conservatives think Obama should have let people die by the hundreds first like Brownie and Bush Jr. did with Katrina. How can Brownie offer an opinion in regard to any disaster relief after what he did. And for conservatives, supposed conservatives to regard effective action in regard to a natural disaster politically motivated is like using 911 for an agenda. Oh wait, they did use 911 to further their fascist agenda.

Erica B.
Erica B5 years ago

Deborah W...if President Obama was in charge at the time of Katrina, you damn well better believe he would have done a LOT better than Busch! Obama actually CARES about the people in this country...ALL the people...not just those who are wealthy and those who can help him further his career! He is the genuine article...he understands the suffering that occurs from a hurricane's damage...he FEELS their pain and sorrow as only a humane person can.

President Obama did the right thing by responding early to hurricane Sandy...if all our presidents responded early, we might not have had all the senseless delays in getting relief! I'm speaking from personal experience, having gone through many hurricanes, including Andrew. Responding early is the best way to ensure that the people who will need help get the help QUICKLY. And it is always better to over-prepare than to under-prepare. No one ever says "I wish we didn't get help this quickly!"