Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Cronies, Inc.

You'd think (any one of) the (many) lessons of the bungled Federal response to Katrina would have rubbed off on someone, anyone higher up. They are making so many bonehead plays lately, one wonders whether Cheney and Rove are actually letting Bush run things.

Is this man even remotely qualified to do anything, except be appointed by Bush?


Bush Names FDIC's Powell As Head of Katrina Relief

WASHINGTON -- Donald Powell, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., has been assigned to oversee the federal government's disaster recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast, the Bush administration announced Tuesday.

Mr. Powell, a wealthy contributor to President Bush's presidential campaign, will be in charge of the long-term plans to rebuild the states hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the late summer. The sluggish federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the first and most damaging of the two, particularly has been widely criticized.

Mr. Powell will be the administration's point person for dealing with Congress, state and local governments, and private businesses on the hurricane relief efforts. He eventually will replace Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, who has been the day-to-day top federal coordinator for Katrina recovery.

"Don has the leadership, ideas and optimism that the residents of the Gulf Coast Region deserve," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a statement announcing Mr. Powell's role.

Before becoming FDIC chairman in August 2001, Mr. Powell was president and chief executive officer of First National Bank in Amarillo, Texas, and chairman of the board of regents for the Texas A&M University System -- an earlier Bush appointment.

Some in Congress have been pushing for the appointment of a "czar" to oversee reconstruction efforts along the Gulf Coast, which are already shaping up to be the largest and most expensive in American history. Congress has so far provided $62 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery efforts, of which about $40 billion has yet to be spent.



Blogger mkchicago said...

I'm not sure I really follow what your objection to Don Powell is. I know nothing about him other than what is contained in your post, but why are CEO of a bank and chairman of the board of Regents non-qualifications for the job. Granted it may not be an ideal resume, but I don't think it's exactly "President of the Arabian Horse Federation" either. Restating the question: what would you like to see on the candidates resume, and do you have any names in mind for the job?

As I mentioned at the last book club meeting Harry Truman (widely regarded as one of the best 20th century presidents) was wholly "unqualified" for the job of president. Lets just say I find your immediate objections to the man a wee bit partisan.

1:40 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

And on second look I failed to mention head of FDIC, which is a disaster recovery agency of sorts, as a qualification.
Again, I'm not claiming he's a great candidate, I simply don't think he's deserving of such a quick dismisal.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

My objections and I are proud of being more than a wee bit partisan. I will give the Bush Administration the benefit of the doubt as soon as they earn it.

I'm not claiming Powell's a shitty candidate. Even I am not cynical enough to assume that just because he's a millionaire banker, he's ill-qualified to run the rebuilding effort of a large decimated region. But surely there are hundreds of qualified people - in gov't and NGO's - who have devoted their careers to such projects, and, despite their lack of connections and money, would make excellent public servants and reliable stewards of the remaining $40 million.

Among the many lessons that should have been learned in the Katrina fiasco is that even the appearance of cronyism is enough to derail any political support you could possibly garner. If Powell IS qualified to run the Katrina effort, emphasis should be placed on these qualifications, not on some nebulous double-speak about his "leadership, ideas and optimism." In other words, this is a bad move politically, and since appointments to high-level administration positions are politically motivated, it is reasonable to assume that the lessons of Katrina were not learned here.

Perhaps my portrayal of poor Mr. Powell was hasty and unfair. I should wait until he fucks up and that $40 billion disappears before I dismiss him as a mere "crony."

3:25 PM  

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