Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Monday, November 19, 2007

  Frances Townsend: Sycophant to the bitter end

Today Bush’s disastrous homeland security assistant, Fran Townsend, announced that she would “take a respite from public service”. Her career had been “both a blessing and a privilege”—but not, she seemed to think, “a curse”.

Her handwritten letter of resignation, dated simply “November 2007”, tells as much as you need to know about Townsend’s sycophantic career:

In 1937, the playwright Maxwell Anderson wrote of President George Washington: There are some men who lift the age they inhabit, til all men walk on higher ground in their lifetime.

Mr. President, you are such a man.


The English language hasn’t enough foul words to describe quite how a reader of the letter, other than George Bush, ought to receive that particular information. Anyhow Scott Horton is far too polite. His error is in treating Townsend’s blathering as if it were meant seriously.

It’s sycophancy, pure and simple…the very thing that has made many a career under Bush. Some on the left have speculated that Bush seeks to promote incompetents because of their incompetence. That’s partly to miss the point. Incompetence is merely a threshold value. It’s the thing that makes Bush’s minions so ready to play the sycophant. When you have nothing else to offer, you emphasize your skills as a sycophant.

It’s the coinage of the Bush administration.

Townsend deserves to be remembered, first of all, for her obscene failure to identify Hurricane Katrina as a major threat to national security in September 2005. That fiasco qualified her to lead the shameless CYA operation entitled ”Lessons Learned”. Townsend could be relied upon to go on pretending that the devastation wrought by a Gulf-coast hurricane was something other than entirely predictable.

Yet to get a flavor of the sycophancy involved, here are the opening paragraphs from her cover letter addressed to Bush once the lessons had been assembled:

You often remind us that your most solemn obligation as President is to protect the American people. And every day and night, millions of men and women throughout the Federal government—both civilian and military—work to achieve that objective. Given the dangerous world in which we live, they do an outstanding job.

Despite all we do, however, Hurricane Katrina was a deadly reminder that we can and must do better, and we will. This is the first and foremost lesson we learned from the death and devastation caused by our country’s most destructive natural disaster: No matter how prepared we think we are, we must work every day to improve.


Read the rest if you have a taste for the maudlin, or Townsend’s PR offensive at Ask the White House:

Joel, from Superior, WI writes:

Dear Ms. Townsend, What do you think is the most important thing the Bush administration will take away from the Katrina response, or lack thereof.

Frances Fragos Townsend:

Yesterday, I gave to the President my report on The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned. I made 125 specific recommendations for change that fell into 17 broad categories. The most important lesson we take away is that although we rescued and evacuated 100,000 people by land and air in the five days after Hurricane Katrina, we must do better. We must truly transform our preparedness system and foster a culture of preparedness throughout the nation.


Notice the elusive word “we”. Far from clear who Townsend is talking about, though it looks like the federal government gets some or all of the credit for rescuing 100,000 people whereas the nation as a whole gets the blame for not having the right “culture of preparedness”.

For Townsend, that appeared to be one of the core lessons learned: Whether the issue was category five hurricanes or bird flu, the rest of us just needed to get our act together.

When the next great natural disaster struck, the California wildfires, Townsend was quick to assure us that the Bush administration was doing a bang-up job:

Over the past few days we've seen a disaster response operating exactly the way it should be…


Even when you, the citizen, recoil in disgust from what you’re seeing or hearing, in Townsend’s world it always turns out that the Bush administration is exactly right—mostly anyway. Take for example this grilling by Helen Thomas after Sen. Feingold publicly asked Bush to cut out the rhetoric about “Islamo-fascism”:

Q What about the President's Islamo-fascism? The president of the Islamic Society of North America, the new president, said last week she didn't think that was particularly helpful.

MS. TOWNSEND: What the President was trying to capture was this idea of using violence to achieve ideological ends -- and that's wrong. Regardless of what label you pin on it, it is this form of radical extremism that really wants to deny people freedom and impose a totalitarian vision of society on everyone, that we object to.

Q Who coined the Islamo-fascist slogan, and what does it mean --

MS. TOWNSEND: I'm not sure I could tell you who coined it --

Q -- in this administration?

MS. TOWNSEND: I'm not sure I could tell you if there is a single author or who coined it. And again, Helen, I guess what I was saying to Elaine is, it's meant to try and capture what is objectionable about the ideology; that is, the use of violence to achieve these ideological ends.


It isn’t so much meaningless, ignorant, idiotic, or inflammatory—because in the end it’s just a label after all. Why should a homeland security assistant care who put that phrase in the President’s mouth, it’s wrong to obsess about it. What’s right is that Bush was trying to capture the idea of using violence to achieve ideological ends.

It’s something that Americans are wholly unused to, so it was left to the President to open our eyes to the practice of harnessing violence to ideology.

Sycophant to the bitter end, Townsend used her resignation today to promote more of that good old-fashioned fear mongering:

Frances Fragos Townsend, who announced today she's leaving her job as White House homeland security adviser, said the U.S. must be on guard against the threat of a terrorist attack tied to next year's elections.

Before she leaves President George W. Bush's administration in early 2008, Townsend said she wants to make sure that plans are in place to head off any potential terrorist threat before or after elections for president and Congress and to ensure there is “no lag in information sharing” between the Bush administration and the next occupant of the White House.

“We know that al-Qaeda” tends to view elections “as a period of vulnerability,'' Townsend, 45, said in an interview. “I don't know if there will be a particular threat, but we can't ignore what we have already seen.''


So why quit now, if the nation is in peril?

Townsend said she plans to pursue a job in the private sector, because many of the skills she has developed in government can be applied to protecting private companies. “I assess vulnerability and gaps, and assess how to minimize consequences of events,” she said.


Minimizing the consequences for Bush of his own incompetence is what Townsend is notorious for.

crossposted from unbossed.com

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2 Comments:

  • awesome, thanks, saw her this eve at NYU Center on Law and Security , not much law in ther talk, where a bunch of brain dead folks subjected themselves to total indoctrination of this kind of world view, so gross, except for a few questions from the audience, sick people, thanks for exposing more

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:08 PM  

  • Thanks for the comment, glad to expose 'em. Why am I not surprised that there was little of the law in a talk by Townsend?

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 5:17 PM  

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