December 29, 2005

"Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."

Is that the quote of the year? WaPo's Mark Leibovich says so. The runners-up are pretty amusing, especially the horrifying "This is working very well for them."

38 comments:

ShadyCharacter said...

From the article:
-------------------
"This year provided another classic in the famous-last-words category. It is the slam-dunk, read-my-lips, I-did-not-have-sexual-relations-with-that-woman 2005 doozie, a Cat 5 quote for the ages:

"Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."
----------------

Figures that the WaPo would pick some random quote I don't recall "ever" having been discussed in my hearing or on the blogs I read.

Was I living in a bubble or something? I realize my personal experience is not the end all and be all of quote measuring, but does anyone else recall the whole Brownie incident as being anything more than a week long blip in the midst of the overwrought Katrina coverage?

It goes without saying it's a quote of Bush's picked to cast him in a bad light.

Score one for MSM predictability!

ShadyCharacter said...

Oh, and they get a dig in at his mother too...

Tiresome...

jeff said...

As for Barbara Bush's quote... compared to still being out in the floodwaters of New Orleans or the flattened zone of Misssissippi or Louisiana, being at the Astrodome probably wasn't that bad.

It wasn't ideal, or probably even all that nice, but at least they had a roof over their head that wasn't going to tear away.

ShadyCharacter said...

Sorry to be a comment hog, but this "journalist" premises this Uber-quote for 2005 with "As a general rule, the most durable quotes don't require the media to keep replaying them (as was done with Dean's 2004 scream) or a hostile opposition to keep reminding everyone of them".

Sure enough, he's right! I just googled the exact quote and got a grand total of, wait for it,



453 hits.


Yep, that's clearly a "slam-dunk, read-my-lips, I-did-not-have-sexual-relations-with-that-woman 2005 doozie, a Cat 5 quote for the ages."

For the ages. I predict that quote will have as much currency 500 years from now as it does today. None.

Pooh said...

So, Shady, did Brownie in fact do a heckuva job?

ShadyCharacter said...

Poo,

To tell you the truth, I didn't spend more than 5 minutes following the Brownie story line back then.

For all I know, he spent the disaster dressed up in a toga, playing a fiddle and would only answer to "Nero", BUT my point stands that this is by no stretch of the imagination of any but a committed Daily Kossack, "the slam-dunk, read-my-lips, I-did-not-have-sexual-relations-with-that-woman 2005 doozie, a Cat 5 quote for the ages".

Am I wrong?

ShadyCharacter said...

Aaron, try running that search with a "-Koss"

:)

ShadyCharacter said...

Aaron,

I love your "search for "you're doing a heckuva job" and you'll get over 11,000 hits. Most people removed the "Brownie". Remove "you're" and it's up to 23,000""

I imagine if you remove "Heckuva" and just search "job" you'd get ... Billions of hits (Billions to be pronounced either in Carl Sagan's stentorian voice or in the mode of Dr. Evil, sinisterly with a pinkie on the corner of your mouth)

ShadyCharacter said...

As an actual test, I did "You're doing a heckuva job" and "Katrina" and got (was it thousands?) 719.

I did, however, search for "Aaron" and it turns out that you, at least, must be one of the most popular people in the world!

ShadyCharacter said...

"You're doing a heckuva job" and "Bush" gives you 950 give or take.

Either Google is broken or this was not that big of a quote. As it remains not that big of a quote.

I'm not sure, Aaron, how to quantify the number of times it came up in conversations in the breakroom of the college bookstore where you work, so I hope you'll agree to depend on the Google-o-meter. Please let me know if you find a refined search that leads to at least 1000 hits!

EricP said...

Just the fact that everyone instantly knows when/where that short sentence comes from tells us that it had some impact. I'm actually a Bush supporter, despite not being American, but that one line was a REALLY low point for his presidency.

ShadyCharacter said...

Well, I didn't and I'm pretty much of a news junkie (all day every day, don't tell my boss!)...

Perhaps Katrina was a low point for his presidency.

However, as everyone is now taking a sober look back at the tragedy, hasn't it become apparent that it was not nearly the scale of disaster that it was being portrayed as it happened or even as it was portrayed in the weeks immediately following?

It's also coming clear that the response was not nearly as FUBAR as it was portrayed.

If it gives one pleasure to cast the Katrina disaster as a low-point for Bush (as opposed to various corrupt and incompetent state officials who actually botched the job prior to the hurricane over the course of decades) feel free to do so. Just slip it in there with the "Bush Lied, People Died" and "Free Mumia" bromides you chant to yourself so you can sleep at night...

Doug said...

For what its worth, Googling "Brownie you're doing a heck of a job" returns 51,400 results.

Here's the link:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22brownie+you%27re+doing+a+heck+of+a+job%22&hl=en&lr=&rls=GGGL,GGGL:2005-09,GGGL:en&start=90&sa=N

ShadyCharacter said...

Doug, that's worth quite a lot. The only answer I can come up with is to try to compare it with the other "Cat 5 quotes for the ages" the author does:

"Read my lips" + "Bush" = 394,000

"sexual relations" + "Clinton" = 191,000

While you've shown the quote has been discussed to some degree, the idea that it was the defining or pinnacle quote of the year is just bonkers.

Feel free to disagree!

Robert R. said...

If not the "Brownie" quote, then what?

One thing to note of the "Read my lips" and "sexual relations" quotes, they probably wouldn't have had that many hits on the internet less than 4 months after they were uttered.

EddieP said...

Well, I'm a Bush supporter and I've never heard the quote. Don't mean much here in Georgia!

Bas-O-Matic said...

While you've shown the quote has been discussed to some degree, the idea that it was the defining or pinnacle quote of the year is just bonkers.

So, you were wrong about it's importance.

It is only bonkers to someone who gets their information from Fox news and right wing blogs such that you, a self described news junky, "didn't spend more than 5 minutes following the Brownie story line back then" (this being one of the main threads in the biggest news story of the year) and can say with a straight face "Hasn't it become apparent that it was not nearly the scale of disaster that it was being portrayed as it happened or even as it was portrayed in the weeks immediately following?" regarding one of the worst natural disasters in US history.

Robert R. said...

FWIW, if you google "Brownie" "you're doing a" "job" you get 112,000 entries. There seems to be some disagreement re: "Heckuva" vs. "Heck of a" in the quote.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Brownie%22+%22You%27re+doing+a%22+job&btnG=Google+Search

Robert R. said...

Just for fun, "Brownie"+Bush yielded 759,000 entries on Google. That tells me two things. 1. The internet has gotten huge and 2. "Brownie" was not some obscure reference in 2005.

Aspasia M. said...

Well, I suppose the Nile is not just a river in Egypt.

Brownie did a heckuva job, all right, a heckuva job.

I suppose Katrina looks better if it's compared to Galveston. Of course, when the Galveston hurricane hit, they had no radar or modern communications systems.

Goatwhacker said...

This reminds me of that "best magazine covers" debate, whenever you do a "best of" you'll get a lot of disagreement. I do remember the Brownie quote but I didn't realize it was played up so much by the left. Brown didn't handle Katrina well at all and Bush was indeed responsible for him, so I can't defend either one in this situation. Whether that's enough for it to be quote of the year probably depends on your political views.

Word verification: eifmdel

Wasn't he in Lord of the Rings?

Pooh said...

shady,

short answer - yes you are wrong. I see others have fully addressed the width and depth of your wrongness. But you couldn't even be bothered to spell my name correctly, and that in and itself is wrong...

And now that my head has snapped back into alignment from my massive doubletake:

To tell you the truth, I didn't spend more than 5 minutes following the Brownie story line back then.

And if I can't see you, you can't see me. (covers eyes)

Pete said...

Look, I don’t want to defend the “Brownie” but he came from Oklahoma and that’s where I am so I guess it’s up to me.

Up until Katrina, Brown seemed to be doing a good enough job. No complaints, as far as I know, and he was in the job for a few years before Katrina hit handling other hurricanes so there goes the theory of his being inexperienced. Sure, Bush was foolish to say Brownie was doing a heckuva job but sometimes loyalty is mis-placed and maybe that’s the case here. I have a feeling Brown’s resignation wasn’t his idea alone; I’m sure Bush let it be known that he wouldn’t refuse his resignation and he didn’t. Yes, we have all sorts of modern miracles that help us plan for bad weather but the best tool we have is common sense. Both mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana knew there was a hurricane coming and knew exactly how well prepared they were and what they should do about it and both failed the people who elected them. FEMA’s response was far from perfect but until the levees were breached – an event that should have been long prepared for by the LOCAL government – things weren’t really that bad, as far as hurricanes go. No, I don’t think Brown acted as well as he could’ve but hindsight is always 20/20.

As for the quote, I was aware of it but didn’t find it, or the quote by Bush’s mother, to be as earth-shattering as the MSM makes it out to be. Time will tell, I suppose, but if Bush Senior had later reversed himself on raising taxes and Clinton had come clean earlier and far more candidly, perhaps the quotes attributed to them might not be as significant as they seem today. Sure, I’m a shameless Bush supporter; I think in a year or so from now he’ll have done more than enough to put this quote far behind him.

Elizabeth said...

For those of you going on and on about how unfair the media is singling out the Brownie comment, and Barb's "let them eat cake" barb, this is one time you might want to let go of the belief that people just irrationally hate Bush, and consider that maybe, maybe, the administration really did some things very badly in responding to Katrina. You weren't in New Orleans, you didn't evacuate with a few changes of clothes, your pets, and kids, and you don't what the hell you're talking about.

And for the record, Brownie didn't do a hellavu job, not by any measure. And losing one's home and possessions to floodwaters, even if it results in coming to a nice city and getting public assistance, doesn't add up to "working out quite well."

I pray none of you ever find this out for yourself.

Thersites said...

Up until Katrina, Brown seemed to be doing a good enough job.

Up until the hurricane, New Orleans was doing pretty swell too.

MadisonMan said...

Very well said Elizabeth.

For all the kvelling and kvetching above, I don't see a better suggestion for a quote of the year.

Palladian said...

"Comparing it to "read my lips" et al is ridiculous"

The web didn't exist when Bush Sr. said that.

And there was no Daily Kos or right wing blogosphere during the "did not have sexual relations with that woman" episode.

So the comparison is sort of stupid.

That said, this is the dumbest argument I have seen on here in a long time. The Brown episode was an embarrassment. But the media DID blow the Katrina story, awful as it was, out of proportion for a long time, pretty transparently aimed at hurting the President.

There were a lot of other quotes in the WaPo article. Anyone care to talk about them? Dean said some funny things.

Chum said...

Shadycharacter says this,

However, as everyone is now taking a sober look back at the tragedy, hasn't it become apparent that it was not nearly the scale of disaster that it was being portrayed as it happened or even as it was portrayed in the weeks immediately following?

I guess all those people floating face down in floodwater, and the decaying bodies still being found in their homes as recently as a month ago, are just overstating their plight. It's amazing to hear a US citizen, sitting in comfort at their computor, minimize the human suffering of fellow US citizens. For shame!

Elizabeth said...

But the media DID blow the Katrina story, awful as it was, out of proportion for a long time, pretty transparently aimed at hurting the President.

The Katrina story IS, not WAS, and I'm not sure what Palladian means by "out of proportion." The national press, with the exception of Brian Williams on MSNBC, pretty much are done with us, except when some minor scandal gets attention. The president did plenty to embarrass himself, so I don't see how it matters much if the media focused on his missteps. His big speech in Jackson Square was covered respectfully, but what media outlets are following up on his promises?

I get the sense people outside of the Gulf Coast are tired of the hurricane story, and prefer to recast it as a minor weather event and a major political annoyance.

Chum said...

elizabeth said...
'I get the sense people outside of the Gulf Coast are tired of the hurricane story, and prefer to recast it as a minor weather event and a major political annoyance.'

If some of the posts in this thread are typical of current opinion, I think you are correct. These folk might change their opinion when they pay their 2006 auto/house/tenant insurance premiums. Predicated insurance losses for Katrina alone, without the expected hurricane-pollution lawsuits, is $40 billion. Add in Rita and Wilma and the loss is $57.billion. Insurance company gonna pass that loss on to y'all.

bill said...

If by "the media blowing Katrina out of proportion," people are referring to estimates of tens of thousands dead and stories of baby raping mutant cannibals, I'll grant a point.

But otherwise, no. I think the media has done a poor job of following up on areas outside of New Orleans - portions of Mississippi were wiped off the map. And considering how much of our imports and fuel comes through the badly damaged infrastructure of the region, people need to pay attention. Very little will be fixed or shored up by the next hurricane season, only 6 months away.

dave said...

Am I wrong?

Yes.

Also an obvious brownshirt tool. Like so many of the writers and participants at this blog.

Goatwhacker said...

It would be difficult to say the media blew Katrina out of proportion - it was a catastrophe. Where the media failed was in not providing a full perspective and implying initially this was primarily a failure at the federal level. There was and is plenty of blame to go around. I can't think of any government official distingushing themselves in this matter until General Honore showed up and started shouting orders (he did provide another candidate for quote of the year - "stuck on stupid".

I've observed that liberals often consider what I've said in the first paragraph as protecting Bush. This is not the case - defending Bush by saying someone else also did a lousy job is a poor defense. I think Bush/Brown did a poor job in the handling of Katrina, especially in the first few days. He gave the appearance of fiddling while Rome burned. Even if there wasn't much he could have done he's still the president, it was time to cancel the vacation and get to New Orleans.

It is reasonable though to ask why the media covered things the way they did. The media has a responsibility to be complete and not just breathlessly report every rumor as gospel. They also had a responsibility to see which agency, be it local, state or federal, was responsible for which area and apply the blame appropriately. The media seemed to take the easy way out, blame everything on Bush/FEMA, report unquestioningly comments by Nagin and Blanco, and report unsubstantiated rumors as fact.

ShadyCharacter said...

Well, I was clearly wrong about how much the Left had invested in blowing this quote out of proportion. Mea culpa!

However, based on that Dave called me a brownshirt and according to Godwin's Law I win the argument!

Boo-yah!

For those asking for more telling quotes, a later post on the main page has about a baker's dozen that were more significant...

Elizabeth said...

Where the media failed was in not providing a full perspective and implying initially this was primarily a failure at the federal level. There was and is plenty of blame to go around.

I do agree, though the shift to blaming the state and local folks happened fairly swiftly, and that's pretty much where national coverage left off. And right now, we still need smart coverage that examines the daily, current dilemmas that face the federal, state and local agencies and decision makers in rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Bush made some wonderful promises in his Jackson Square speech, but they're not coming to fruition. Our state and local officials are moving too slowly to present their plans to the feds. And only our local press is covering the history of the Corps of Engineers' mistakes in designing and building the canals that failed--this same agency is in charge of our current project to rebuild and strengthen protection against flooding.

The drama of the storm itself, and of the initial days afterwards, made for exciting news and images. But the real story of how we move on from here is unfolding day by day, and it's rarely covered well, proportionately, in the national press.

Pooh said...

Shady, you're doing a heckuva a job.

Telecomedian said...

Well, here within the Beltway, our statistics are going to be skewed because of the proximity to the White House, but that quote is instantly recognizable and always a point of laughter. Doesn't matter if you're talking to a Republican, Democrat, Whig, Know-Nothing, Labor or Tory - the quote is synonymous with failure and cronyism. In fact, in a recent meeting at my DoD agency, the assistant director who practically worships Bush and the Republican Party told a younger staffer "you're doing a heck of a job," dripping with irony, to howls of laughter.

Maybe only 4 out of 10 folks from back home in Iowa would place the quote, but 9 out of 10 out here get it. There's a reason they don't give out national political talk shows in Cedar Rapids.

Chum said...

Pooh said...

Shady, you're doing a heckuva a job.


Heh, heh, heh.