|Perhaps the knowledge of Lieberman's culpability in this matter is what sent Dan Gerstein into his usual apoplectic defensive hyperbole:
“Maybe in Ned Lamont’s naïve, reality-challenged world, he thinks simply by yelling loud enough he would have gotten the White House to give him what he wanted,” Dan Gerstein, Mr. Lieberman’s spokesman, said in a statement. “But that’s not how things work in Washington.”
Yeah. How do things work in Lieberman's Washington? Well, in 2002, Lieberman was the Chair of the Committee on Government Affairs (remember, Democrats were briefly in control of the Senate back then, so Boltin' Joe actually had real oversight power leading confirmation hearings for Bush appointees). How did he use that oversight power, which could have prevented the famously, cartoonishly unqualified Michael Brown from appointment to leadership at FEMA?
Lieberman presided over a 42-minute confirmation hearing for Michael Brown. Can you imagine any other executive job interview lasting less than an hour? Ridiculous.
Some choice quotes from Lieberman's "questioning" of Michael Brown: (link to HTML version of Brown hearing transcript)
I am glad the President has nominated someone already familiar with FEMA's mission to become Deputy Director.
On Michael Brown's "experience" for the job? Here's our Joe fulfilling his oversight responsibility by praising Brown's resume:
Before joining the Bush administration, I note from his resume, he served as executive director of the Independent Electrical Contractors in Denver. In the early 1980's, Mr. Brown served as staff director of the Oklahoma Senate's Finance Committee, while serving on the Edmund, Oklahoma, City Council. He ran for Congress in the sixth district, and, in what I think is particularly useful experience, early in his career, was assistant city manager in Edmond, with responsibility for police, fire, and emergency services.
This "particularly useful experience" that Lieberman praises? It refers to a job that Michael Brown had while he was in college, from 1975-1978, as an administrative assistant to the city manager in Edmund, OK. His old boss at that job told Time Magazine about this "particularly useful experience":
"Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."
A punctual and well dressed college student intern! Wow! Joe Lieberman praises this as "particularly useful experience" for leading a national emergency management agency! (Kids, you too can lead a major branch of Homeland Security - just starch your shirts and show up on time!)
So, that's how things work in Dan Gerstein and Joe Lieberman's Washington. Bullshit blather, joking handshakes, and ultimately a rubber-stamp for Bush's nominees. (Lieberman and Gerstein call that "bipartisanship".) Here are some more choice Lieberman quotes from the hearing:
Mr. Brown, you have extensive management experience. For this job, you will need it.
Here's a particularly telling and useful exchange between Brown and Lieberman:
Brown: I am also very grateful for my wife being here today. As all of you know, public service sometimes can cause a heavy toll in termsof just relationships, in terms of the workload, in terms of what the undertaking is that we do in being public servants, and my wife has followed me throughout my career and has been very supportive, at times questioning me, at times prodding me, at times looking at me with that strange look on her face like, ‘‘What are you doing now?’’ [Laughter.] But throughout all of it, she has been very supportive, so I would like to introduce my wife, Tamara, and just tell you how much I appreciate her being here today.
Chairman Lieberman: Thank you for being here, Mrs. Brown. All of us are familiar with that strange spousal look that Mr. Brown referred to. ‘‘What are you doing now?’’ I have seen that a few times at home. [Laughter.]
Yuk, yuk! We're all just buddies here! See how we get along? See you and the Missus at the cocktail party on Thursday night! Hooray for bipartisanship!
Chairman Lieberman: Thank you very much. That is a good answer.
More yuk yuk follies:
Chairman Lieberman: I urge you to continue to think about that. We are all together. We are all trying to figure out in a very new circumstance what the best way is to organize the government’s response. It is just the question was raised in my mind whether parts of the functions of this new CBRN Directorate, frankly, would be better in the other directorate with FEMA, and I encourage a continued dialogue on that.
Mr. Brown: I think there will be a lot of dialogue in that regard.
Chairman Lieberman: Sure. Thank you.
Finally, I'd like you to reflect on this exchange between Lieberman and Brown, the most substantive and serious of the hearing, in which Lieberman asks Brown about evacuation plans for nuclear power plants in the US. Lieberman asks Brown about his role "in investigating the adequacy of these evacuation plans for nuclear power plants in the United States." Great question. Critical. Here's Brown's completely BS response, and "Chairman" Lieberman's reaction:
Mr. Brown: I think my role is a very serious one. I think the agency’s role is a very serious one, that we should not just wait for someone to petition or request that we evaluate, that those types of plans should be evaluated on an ongoing basis. It would be my intent to somehow implement the ongoing evaluation so we do not have to look in hindsight and say, gosh, we wish we had looked at that. We should be looking at that all the time to make sure they are adequate, and I will pledge to you that we will certainly do that.
Chairman Lieberman: I appreciate that, obviously, from the point of view of Connecticut.
Look at the substance (or lack thereof) of Brown's response. I've worked in management in the private sector making hiring decisions as part of a team of interviewers, and I can't imagine recommending the hiring of someone who'd give such a completely blathering, rambling, pointless, bullshit answer to such a critical question. Yet less than a minute after this exchange, this is what Senator Lieberman said:
Chairman Lieberman: Mr. Brown, I thank you very much. I will certainly support your nomination. I will do my best to move it through the Committee as soon as possible so we can have you fully and legally at work in your new position. In the meantime, I thank you very much. I thank your family for their support of you, and at this point, we will adjourn the hearing.
42 minutes of hard work. That's the way things are done in Washington according to Gerstein and Lieberman. (Don't just trust my excerpting -- if you have time, read the whole thing. It's really even more damning in its entirety.)
Joe Lieberman was a leader who had oversight responsibility and was actually in power in the Senate leading the committee that should have actually VETTED Michael Brown, not praised him effusively based solely on his own resume or used most of the 42-minute hearing to engage in inane banter. Joe Lieberman abdicated his oversight authority. That's the way things are done in Lieberman's Washington.
Which is exactly why we need a new Senator from Connecticut.