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You Call That Resume Padding?

(cross-posted at http://www.tpmcafe.com)

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the stories about FEMA Director Michael Brown's padded resume were being released for the sole purpose of giving some cover to the White House in firing him: "The President is extremely disappointed that Brownie, umm, Mr. Brown, represented himself as holding qualifications he did not hold, and the President will not tolerate anything other than complete forthrightness," Scotty will say, presenting the president as the Stockard Channing character in Six Degrees of Separation.

But it's actually more like Bernie Kerik's nonexistent "nanny problem" because, in reality, Brown's resume wasn't all that padded. Sure he changed "Assistant to the City Manager" to "Assistant City Manager," added a couple of honors he hadn't gotten, and made it sound like he'd been practicing some law when he hadn't. But a real resume padder adds a couple of degrees from Stanford and a stint in Special Forces.

The important point is this: Even if every single thing on Brown's resume was true, it was still an obviously pathetic set of qualifications to run a major federal agency, or even to supervise the 30 lawyers in a federal agency's general counsel's office.

It is a little shocking that none of the Senators who participated in the 42-minute confirmation hearing that Laura Rozen linked to yesterday made any note that even Brown's padded resume was empty of any actual disaster management, or any management at all at any level above that of a very small city a quarter century ago!

And the liability now should rest entirely with the White House. They were not tricked into hiring someone who lied about his qualifications. They made the appointment with a total lack of interest in any qualification other than loyalty, and as this article suggests, may have been complicit in the exaggeration.

And, of course, the other four of the five top FEMA officials with no experience weren't hiding the fact that their careers had been spent as political advance men or ad makers.

This leads me to suggest an exercise, perfectly suited for the distributed talents of the blogosphere: Where's the next disaster? Are there other agencies where the top staff is so totally unqualified to the job at hand? Let's have some digging into those agency websites. Most propbably won't offer the potential for human tragedy that FEMA holds, but let's start with places like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (that director seems marginally qualified) that we know the administration doesn't care about. Foxes guarding the henhouse also qualify.

We might find out that FEMA was the one and only pure turkey farm, or we might find out that there are many other disasters waiting to happen. Use comments to post what you find.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on September 9, 2005 | Permalink


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Hello...how is it that a new administration, in this case, Rove's Republicans, can strip an agency like FEMA of all the professionals that were there from the Clinton days, and stack the leadership positions with political buddies and no body from Congress objects? Do they lack the will or do they now have the momentum do make a law requiring career professionals in these agencies.

Posted by: Joseph Olschner | Sep 9, 2005 8:58:00 PM

Mad Cow epidemic: USDA
Massive drug recall: FDA
Energy crisis: DOE

I imagine you can take your pick of the regulatory agencies and the Bush-Rove politico-administrative complex will have spiked each one with hacks and/or anti-regulators. At least they've given us those national days of prayer.

Posted by: murky | Sep 19, 2005 10:44:41 PM

...and I've enjoyed those national days of prayer. I thought the administration would have learned it's lesson but with this Mier's appointment it's doubtful.

Posted by: Caineisable | Oct 25, 2005 9:14:30 AM