Michael Brown, best known for being told by President George W. Bush that he was doing a “heck’ve a job” during the Katrina disaster, sits behind a radio microphone during the pandemic, fearful for the country, not because of the death toll, but because he thinks politicians are over-reacting.
“I think the cure is worse than the disease, and so I fear for the country,” said Brown on his KOA 850-AM radio show in Denver last week.
“Let’s take some risk here,” said Brown on air, apparently unconcerned that his listeners might laugh at the irony that the guy who led the disastrous federal response to Hurricane Katrina would advocate risk-taking during a national emergency.
Brown was forced to resign as FEMA director in 2005, as the death toll from Katrina mounted. Before the scope of the disaster unfolded, President George W. Bush infamously told “Brownie” he was doing a “heck’ve a job,” and the nickname stuck.
On Thursday’s show, Brown declared that Americans understand that they have to “keep six feet away from each other,” use “knuckles to push elevator buttons,” and to not “pick your nose.”
“The vulnerable population, those with chronic underlying problems, suppressed immune systems, whatever it might be,” concluded Brown, “so let’s isolate and take care of them.”
For Brown, who’s been active in Colorado’s Republican community after leaving Washington, the larger issue is about stopping progressives.
“When we hand politicians emergency powers to close things down, there’s really no end to what they might start closing down,” said Brown on air Thursday. “Or how far they will go next time. The way progressivism works is, you take little baby steps.”
In one of a series of recent radio shows with titles such as “Civil Disobedience,” “Social-Distance Police,” “Fear Mongering Trends,” “Police Powers,” and “Remember H1N1,” Brown worries that people with ideas like his are being silenced, and that’s “out of character with America.”
“And so the go-alongers want to shame the contrarians like me into shutting up and not talking about it,” he said on air Thursday. “But not questioning authority, and just going along mindlessly and passively with a cascading series of unacceptably extreme measures, many of which set a dangerous precedent for civil liberties, I think is just out of character for America.”
Brown kicked off his show on “Civil Disobedience” by describing his visits to empty coffee and sandwich shops.
“Cooks, wait staff, bussers, cashiers, delivery people, owners, I don’t think they will make it,” Brownie told his audience. “They work on thin margins. Those are real people with real lives, real people with real jobs.”
“I truly, I sincerely, worry about these small businesses that are the heart and soul of this country,” said Brown. “You know, small businesses employ many more people than Fortune 500 companies, many more. And I worry about their existence. And I care about their existence. And I care more about their existence than I do this stupid virus.”
Brown, who was exposed as a political appointee without proper qualifications to head FEMA in the first place, embraces his “Heck’ve a Job” claim to fame.
He actually plays the audio of Bush delivering the heck-of-a-job line every time he opens his radio show on KOA — and after most commercial breaks.
Katrina comes up every so often on his show, and he’s defensive of his role in the disaster, once agreeing with a caller who said it was hard to “feel sorry” about New Orleans residents who didn’t evacuate before Katrina.
But many see Brown as the most prominent and enduring symbol for an avoidable human catastrophe within our own borders.
Katrina arguably led to the demise of Bush, and some say that coronavirus will be Trump’s Katrina.
But you don’t hear anything like that on Michael “Heck’ve-a-Job” Brownie’s show.