Anyone who's paying attention knows three things about FEMA Director Michael Brown by now. He was fired from his old job at the International Arabian Horse Association. He didn't know there were people holed up in the New Orleans Convention Center despite the fact that the cable networks had been reporting it for days. And the president of the United States, who likes to call him "Brownie," thinks he's doing a "heck of a job."
Over at the New Republic, Paul Campos is filling in a few more details. As Campos explains, Brown got hired at FEMA because he was a longtime friend of Joe Allbaugh's, who got hired at FEMA because he was a longtime friend of George W. Bush's. But surely Brown had some serious qualifications for becoming FEMA's general counsel and eventually its director, right? He was an accomplished lawyer? A volunteer firefighter? He knew CPR?
Not exactly, Campos says.
Campos is a law professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he has done some digging into Brown's so-called legal career. Here's what he's found: "When Brown left the [International Arabian Horse Association] four years ago, he was, among other things, a failed former lawyer -- a man with a 20-year-old degree from a semi-accredited law school who hadn't attempted to practice law in a serious way in nearly 15 years and who had just been forced out of his job in the wake of charges of impropriety. At this point in his life, returning to his long-abandoned legal career would have been very difficult in the competitive Colorado legal market. Yet, within months of leaving the IAHA, he was handed one of the top legal positions in the entire federal government: general counsel for a major federal agency. A year later, he was made its number-two official, and, a year after that, Bush appointed him director of FEMA."
Scott McClellan won't say whether the president has confidence in Brown now. The real question is, why did he have confidence in him then?