National: If any good at all came out of Hurricane Katrina...
If any good at all came out of Hurricane Katrina, it was former FEMA director Mike Brown’s testimony before an investigative committee run by House Republicans. Some truly funny moments of black comedy in an otherwise horrifying disaster.
Brown’s an old GOP hand, a Bush ally from way back; so I guess he expected gentle handling from his own side. Well, forget that! They roasted him live, on camera, GOP or no GOP. They needed a fall guy to get themselves off the hook for not funding repair of the levees prior to the hurricance (the kind of preventive measure that conservatives denounce as a “big government program at taxpayer expense.”)
Brown was perfect for the fall. He turned red, blathered, gesticulated, objected, slapped the table, alternately withered and raged under the angry comments and criticism of the panel (“I'm happy you left," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. "You get an F-minus in my book," said Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss.) Then the funny part: at one point Brown just snapped. "So I guess you want me to be the superhero, to step in there and take everyone out of New Orleans,” he said.
Wow! Not just anger, but sarcastic petulance, from the guy the President thought was best qualified to get America through major crisis situations! It seemed like Brown felt that he, Brown, was the real victim in this whole Katrina thing! If Brown descends into childish narcissism in a personal career crisis, what ever made Bush think that Brown was qualified to handle a real one?
And what if Brown had really lost it, that day? What if he’d stayed in touch with his feelings at that moment and continued to testify along those lines? It would have been a scream…
Brown: (furious) So I guess you want me to be the superhero, to step in there and take everyone out of New Orleans.
Committee: No, we don’t want you to do that, we just wanted you to do your job—
Brown: Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s SUPER-Brown! Whoosh!
Committee: Mr. Brown—
Brown: It’s SOOP-er-Brown, with his SOOP-er powers! He’s going to zoom into New Orleans and save everyone, because he’s SOOP-er-Brown! (stretches out his arms, pretends to fly) Whoosh!
Committee: Mr. Brown, will you please—
Brown: Wait a minute, wait a minute, Super-Brown has forgotten his cape—(takes the table cloth off the witness table and ties it around his neck) Wait a minute…
Committee: Mr. Brown, will you please sit down, so that—
Brown: There! Now, SOOP-er Brown is ready for action! Faster than a speeding bullet—
(He starts to run around the committee room, pretending to fly, cape flapping behind him, photographers and video cameras tracking him as he runs by)
Committee: Get the Sergeant at Arms to return this witness to his seat!
Brown: Zoom! Zoooom! Neee-oww—Uh-oh, what’s this? SOOP-er-Brown’s SOOP-er vision has detected trouble down in New Orleans! Whoa, the levees have broken! This looks like a job for… SOOP-er-Brown! Guess I better get my SOOP-er ass down there quick, to use my SOOP-er strength to put the goddamn levees back together with my bare hands, eh? The hell with my other responsibilities, the hell with my schedule--
Committee: I move that this witness be cited for contempt unless he immediately returns—
Brown: Oh, no! What’s this? Super-Brown’s x-ray vision sees—(makes “x-ray vision” sort of noises)-- nih-nih-nih-nih-nih-nih-nih—there’s a bunch of black people trapped in the Convention Center without food or water! Oh, no! Lassie, run and go get help! SOOP-er Brown will stay here and rescue all the poor people who weren’t smart enough to figure out that it’s a good idea to get the hell out of town when there’s a goddamn hurricane on the way! Go, Lassie! Go! Atta girl!
Committee: Mr. Brown, this is your final warning!
Brown: What the hell do you want me to do, go down to goddamn New Orleans and suck all the water out of there with a straw? I’m a political appointee, goddammit, I got appointed because I was a Bush hack, and now you want me to do miracles, you want me the part the f’in’ Red Sea?
Committee: I’m citing you for contempt. Sergeant, take the witness into custody—
Brown: Oh, no! You can’t arrest me, I’m SOOP-er Brown! Whoosh! Zoom!
Committee: Catch him! Get him, officer!