"Brownie Law"

John Edwards, who launched his presidential bid from New Orleans earlier this year, said he would revamp Washington’s federal emergency bureaucracy by placing a “disaster czar” in the White House.

Mr Edwards also pledged that as president he would push through a “Brownie law” – a sardonic reference to Michael Brown, who was head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency when the storm hit. At the time, Mr Bush told the Fema director: “You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie.”

Mr Edwards’s proposed law would aim to ensure that political appointees to federal agencies are qualified to do the job. Mr Brown had previously been commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the Democratic frontrunners, issued similar criticisms and plans on their visits to New Orleans. Mike Huckabee, who surprised many by coming second to Mitt Romney in the Iowa Republican straw poll and who is the former governor of Arkansas, which took 75,000 evacuees, also blasted the Bush administration. He said: “We came to believe Fema stood for ‘Forget expecting meaningful answers’.”

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