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Trump’s Praise of FEMA Chief Evokes Bush’s Katrina Words

August 26, 2017, 4:43 PM UTC
A burnt out house and cars that caught fire are seen after Hurricane Harvey hit Corpus Christi, Texas on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast late Friday, unleashing torrents of rain and packing powerful winds, the first major storm to hit the US mainland in 12 years. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

“You’re doing a great job.”

With those words of encouragement on Twitter for Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long, President Donald Trump on Saturday recalled what became one of the lowest moments of George W. Bush’s presidency.

Bush’s premature “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” praise of his in-over-his-head FEMA director presaged the bungling in 2005 that helped turn Hurricane Katrina into a human catastrophe. It became a national punch line and “Brownie” — Michael Brown — was out of a job within weeks.

Just before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Friday, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley reminded Trump on Twitter not to “make same mistake Pres Bush made w Katrina.”

“@Chuck Grassley – got your message loud and clear,” Trump tweeted back. “We have fantastic people on the ground, got there long before #Harvey.”

Those were indeed the early reviews. Also in Trump’s favor: Long, unlike Brown, has a background in emergency management. But Trump tempted fate one more time in closing out his tweet at Grassley, long before the damage from Harvey was known:

“So far, so good!”