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Bownie's Got a Brand New Bag

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Message Missy Beattie
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It's true. Michael Brown, former FEMA chief and forever fashion afficionado, is starting a consulting firm for disaster preparation. There's definitely something wrong with this picture.

In fact, it's about as believable as the Kalpoe brothers and Joran van der Sloot's filming of advertisements for Aruba's tourism industry.

The list of comparisons is endless: How about Bernard Kerik's taking the reins as head of Homeland Security? Dick Cheney's teaching ethics? The grand opening of Bill Clinton's cigar shop? Madeleine Albright's working for Save the Children? Rush Limbaugh as a pharmaceutical rep? Ann Coulter's conversion to Islam? Barbara Bush's ringing a bell as a Salvation Army volunteer? Oh, and the best yet--George Walker Bush on a debate team?

I mean, ole "you're-doin'-a heckuva-good-job-Brownie" was more concerned about his growling stomach, dinner, and appearance than he was for the victims of Katrina. Remember? Someone told him to roll up his Nordstrom shirtsleeves and, at least, look like he knew how to get his hands dirty.

And there was so much dirt, mud, mold, filth, exposed poverty and squalor after Katrina. There's also a huge amount of dirt and poverty of conscience in the Bush Administration.

Even watching the arrogant abusers of power on television makes me want to take a long, hot bath with plenty of Lava soap followed by an even longer hot shower with more Lava soap.

But back to Michael Brown and his bright, business scheme/scam. Can't you see him, entering an area about to be devastated by destruction. "Take me to your closet," he'd direct. And after inspecting an article of clothing, he'd pronounce, "This jacket is already mold-friendly. Of course, we could wrap it in plastic...no, trash this. It's so not today."


"You heard me. I'm in charge here. And those shoes...I suppose you could put them out to dry if they were soggy. Who's the designer? I don't recognize a logo or see a name."

"Why, they're Payless," the beleaguered and stunned client would say.

"Oh, my God. Only keep the Bruno Magli shoes. What? You don't own any? Surely, you jest...have you no pride in your appearance?"

What I'm saying here is that the Michael Brown we came to know so well would be more useful to the public and quite successful as a fashion consultant. One of those professionals who comes into your home and your closet, getting rid of those dated, never-to-come-back-in-style-visual-attrocities, giving you advice about your "colors" and what matches what. He could even code each item to avoid fashion confusion. He is soooooo hip.

Let's face it. Brownie, simply, is not good at natural disasters. He is a disaster. But he, at least, knows clothing. We should all stick with the familiar, what's within our comfort zones.

I'll bet Brownie could land a job at Nordstrom. He's already endorsed them and the entire world heard about it. All he has to do is call the Nordstrom Career Center. A man with his kind of taste would rise quickly up their ladder. They might even call him "Chief."

Let's imagine, though, for a minute that Brownie's adversity in the aftermath of Katrina has brought him humility--that he, perhaps, has examined his life, turned it around and truly is sincere about helping those in need. For the new and better Brownie, I offer this suggestion: Go to Iraq. Yeah, I know it's a little late for disaster preparedness there, but surely, you'd have something to offer. Think of it as a test. If you accomplished anything at all, it would be a heckuva better job than you did here at home.
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Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
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