A Laughing Matter
"I'm more of a ... strawberry swirl kind of guy, really."
The Colbert Report may be just a spin-off of a show that itself claims to have only a cult following, but they and their sister show always do a remarkable job of attracting provocative, entertaining guests for their interviews. Last night, Stephen Colbert had on disgraced and embattled ex-FEMA director Michael Brown, who proceded to deliver one of the more intriguing interviews I've ever seen from someone whose livelihood depends on success in the public sphere.
You would think that someone who has become the face of one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history would be in a relatively somber frame of mind these days, but Brown couldn't have come across as more relaxed. He sparred with Colbert, laughed again and again, and threw in as many of his own jokes as possible. It was as if he really didn't give a damn at all about the sequence of events that led to him losing his job and being denounced as the epitome of the heartlessness and ineptitude of the Bush administration. He did everything from joke about how he has no problem saying everything was Chertoff's fault to describe the kind of margarita he would have had in the infamous email where Brown tells another FEMA staffer that he would "rather be drinking a margarita and walking his dog than be here right now" in the middle of the Katrina relief effort.
We all got the sense that Brown did a pretty crappy job and didn't seem to care that thousands of people died on his watch, but boy, he really didn't! He might as well have been Russell Crowe sitting next to Letterman and joking about his little cell phone "mishap." The media's presentation of Brown's actions during the Katrina episode, however, weren't just a celebrity "oops"; they were a political disaster that has had major ramifications for the way Federal aid and government readiness in the face of tragedy are handled.
I don't, for one, really think that Brown was fairly skewered for his role in the Katrina disaster, and maybe this was his way of showing that he doesn't really believe he should be held up to the public scrutiny in the way he has, but this whole interview was pretty bizarre. And damn funny.