Mike Brown: Unfit to wear these colors.


















































































































No Brownie Points for This “Brownie”

If Mike Brown really was a Girl Scout in training, FEMA would have been prepared.

By Mary Beth Crain

Is it really true? Is Mike Brown, Chief Mismanager of FEMA, a Girl Scout in training?

If so, you heard it straight from George Bush’s mouth.

Bush called his old crony “Brownie.” In front of the whole world. “Brownie,” he said, “you’re doing a heck of a job.”

Brownie? Hmmm. That’s a loaded term.

The word “brownie” has numerous connotations, none of which is particularly flattering to the male of the species. Here are a few:

1. Fairy. Brownies were one race of the “feys” of English and Celtic folklore.
2. A second-level Girl Scout. The Brownies are Girl Scouts in training, in between Daisies and Junior Girl Scouts. Their age range is six to eight, and they got their name from the Brownie of fairy lore, who was the helper and quietly went around doing good.
3. A chocolate treat.
4. An ass kisser, i.e. brown noser.

You’d think that any one of these definitions would be enough to make a man’s man squirm like he’d just sat on a nest of fire ants. But Mike Brown showed no embarrassment. Of course, that could be because he’s got so much to be embarrassed about already that being called a Brownie is hardly a front burner issue. Or, it could be because he’s been called so much worse that Brownie actually sounds good.

When George Bush called Mike Brown “Brownie,” was it a mere nickname, a palsy-walsy term of affection? Or was it a between-the-lines pejorative? Was he really saying, “You’re doing a heck of a job, you fairy?” Or “Keep up the good work, ass kisser!”

Or, is there a clandestine relationship there that can only be expressed in code? Could it be that Mike Brown and George Bush are more than just old cronies? Was Bush delivering a secret love message, like “Good going, my little chocolate treat? Mmm, I’d like to eat you up!” Or, “Baby, I’d love to see you in uniform. You’d have made such a cute little Girl Scout!”

Of all the possible connotations Bush had in mind, that last is probably the least likely. Mike Brown would have made a terrible Girl Scout.

After all, the Girl Scout’s motto is, “Be Prepared.”

And the Girl Scout’s slogan is “Do a good turn daily.”

Mike Brown is no Brownie. I should know. I was a Brownie for a year, in second grade. I wore my little chocolate colored uniform with the matching beret, and I took the solemn oath. “On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.”

The Girl Scout Law: “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, use resources wisely, and make the world a better place…”

Does this sound like Mike Brown? Honest and fair? Oh yeah, check out his bogus resume. Friendly, helpful, considerate, caring? Just ask the folks in New Orleans. Courageous and strong? Well, let’s not be too hard on him—after all, who in Washington is? Responsible for what I say and do? Oh, but it wasn’t his fault he wasn’t informed about those Convention Center inmates until three days after the rest of the world knew. Use resources wisely? Uh huh.

No, if Mike Brown were a real Brownie, his response to Katrina would have been a model of speed and foresight. He would have been on top of the whole situation way before the actual event. He would have had a viable game plan in place, with all forces at the ready. He would have been on the scene within 24 hours with food, water, medical aid, and a central command that knew precisely what the hell it was doing. He would have been prepared.

And he would have been caring and kind and employed a staff that also embodied those virtues. He would have done a good turn daily, not a bad one. He would have made the world a better place, not a worse one.

Instead, Mike Brown stood there frozen in front of the photographer’s flash bulbs like a deer in the headlights. He was Bush’s General George “Do Nothing” McClellan, who simply dawdled his way through the first couple years of the Civil War. Whenever it was time to make an advance on the enemy, McClellan either sat on his well-paid derriere or inexplicably retreated. We’re just lucky Mike Brown wasn’t in charge of the troops in Iraq, or anywhere else.

Abraham Lincoln kept McClellan in charge way too long. By the time he replaced him, Union losses were so staggering—unnecessarily so—that it’s a wonder the North ever won the war. Now the South has lost again, but at least it only took Commander-in-Chief Bush a week or so to move his old pal to less volatile and visible ground. The only disaster relief in all of this is that the disaster known as Mike Brown was relieved of his Gulf Coast duties. Not fired, of course—he’s still drawing his inflated paycheck while the millions he ignored are left with nothing. But at least he’ll be recycled to a place where he can do far less mischief—we hope.

And if by some remote chance Mike Brown is a Brownie, and he and George Bush know something we don’t, well, he’ll never make it to Junior Girl Scout. After all, like anyone else, the Girl Scouts need assets, not asses. And because, unlike George Bush and his ilk, they’re honest and fair and responsible for what they say and do, they’ll give Mike Brown the evaluation he deserves. You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie. A heck of a bad job. The Brownies give you a big, fat “F.” So long, and don’t forget to turn in your uniform. A real Brownie might need it.


The day after this essay was published, Mike Brown resigned from FEMA.

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Contributing editor Mary Beth Crain's last piece for SoMA was Raising a Spiritual Chihuahua.

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