"Heck of a job!” ("Heckuva job!") usually had been a compliment by a speaker to someone who worked a tough job under difficult circumstances. On September 2, 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush said “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” to Michael D. Brown, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, about his work regarding Hurricane Katrina. The general public mostly viewed FEMA’s handling of Hurricane Katrina to have been a failure, and “Heck of a job, Brownie!” (a paraphrase of the president’s remark) quickly entered American slang as a sarcastic remark for a job done poorly.
Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano was criticized for poor security procedures that allowed a terrorist on an Amsterdam to Detroit flight on Christmas day 2009. “Heck of a job, Janet!” was written by several pundits. New York (NY) Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” on September 3, 2005; Dowd wrote “Heck of a job, Barry” (President Barack Obama—ed.) on December 29, 2009. The phrase “(You’re doing a) heck of a job!” has survived past a particular person and a particular presidential administration to become standard slang for a poor job performance.
Wikipedia: Michael D. Brown
Michael DeWayne Brown (born November 8, 1954) was the first Undersecretary of Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a position generally referred to as the director or administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He was appointed in January 2003 by President George W. Bush and resigned in September 2005. Brown was first appointed as General Counsel at FEMA. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks President Bush nominated Brown to become Deputy Director of FEMA.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many Democratic politicians called for Brown to be fired immediately, including California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, New York Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chuck Schumer, Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, Michigan Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and Senator Debbie Stabenow, Louisiana State Rep. Peter Sullivan, Nevada Senator Harry Reid, and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.
Republican politicians such as Senator Trent Lott have also criticized Brown’s leadership of FEMA. Brown’s performance was defended, however, by Republicans such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Presidential speechwriter Pat Buchanan. At the Mobile (Alabama) Regional Airport on September 2, 2005, President Bush publicly praised Brown’s handling of the disaster, saying “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” “Heck of a job” soon became sarcastic slang for things done very poorly.
heck of a job
October 10, 2005 Urban Word of the Day
A complete and total screw-up. From President George W. Bush’s infamous comment to FEMA chief Michael D. Brown while the latter was botching the federal response to Hurricane Katrina: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
Ben Affleck, you’re doing a heck of a job on Gigli.
The captain of the Titanic did a heck of a job.
Varus, you’re doing a heck of a job with those Legions.
by Sonobovich Oct 4, 2005
Heck of a job Brownie
July 30, 2006
The greatest president in American History gives his super smart head of FEMA some much deserved kudos.
Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary
Main Entry: heck
1 : hell 2 “all heck breaks loose”
2 : hell 4 “a heck of a lot of money”
Article: Remarks by President Bush During Briefing on Hurricane Katrina.
Article from: PR Newswire
Article date: September 2, 2005
WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/—The following are remarks by President Bush during a briefing on Hurricane Katrina:
Mobile Regional Airport
10:35 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first I want to say a few things. I am incredibly proud of our Coast Guard. We have got courageous people risking their lives to save life. And I want to thank the commanders and I want to thank the troops over there for representing the best of America.
I want to congratulate the governors for being leaders. You didn’t ask for this, when you swore in, but you’re doing a heck of a job. And the federal government’s job is big, and ...
New York (NY) Times
United States of Shame
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: September 3, 2005
Just last year, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials practiced how they would respond to a fake hurricane that caused floods and stranded New Orleans residents. Imagine the feeble FEMA’s response to Katrina if they had not prepared.
Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA - a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association - admitted he didn’t know until Thursday that there were 15,000 desperate, dehydrated, hungry, angry, dying victims of Katrina in the New Orleans Convention Center.
Was he sacked instantly? No, our tone-deaf president hailed him in Mobile, Ala., yesterday: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
Dipping His Toe Into Disaster
By Matthew Cooper Tuesday, Sep. 06, 2005
It isn’t easy picking George Bush’s worst moment last week. Was it his first go at addressing the crisis Wednesday, when he came across as cool to the point of uncaring? Was it when he said that he didn’t “think anybody expected” the New Orleans levees to give way, though that very possibility had been forecast for years? Was it when he arrived in Mobile, Ala., a full four days after the storm made landfall, and praised his hapless Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director, Michael D. Brown, whose disaster credentials seemed to consist of once being the commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association? “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” said the President.
Published on Friday, December 30, 2005 by Reuters
President Bush’s “Brownie” Quote Wins Award
by Arthur Spiegelman
LOS ANGELES - Call it the wrong phrase at the wrong time but “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job” was named on Thursday as U.S. President George W. Bush’s most memorable phrase of 2005.
The ill-timed praise of a now disgraced agency head became a national punch line for countless jokes and pointed comments about the administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and added to the president’s reputation for verbal gaffes and clumsy turns of phrase.
Paul JJ Payack, president of Global Language Monitor, a nonprofit group that monitors language use, says Bush’s statement in support of the then-director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency may be remembered for years to come.
OCLC WorldCat record
A Heckuva job : more of the Bush administration in rhyme
Author: Calvin Trillin
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2006.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed
Summary: The humorist and author offers a new collection of irreverent verses that takes aim at the Bush administration.
OCLC WorldCat record
Heckuva job, Bushie!
Author: G B Trudeau
Publisher: Kansas, Mo. : Andrews McMeel ; London : Simon & Schuster [distributor], 2006.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English
Heck of a job, Rummy
As more generals call for the resignation of the secretary of defense, the White House stands by its man.
Apr. 14, 2006 | At some point, a steady drip becomes a flood. As the New York Times reports this morning, two more retired generals have called on Donald Rumsfeld to resign. That makes six in recent months, and the Times sees signs that more are likely to join in the chorus soon.
Wednesday, Jul 11, 2007 16:02 EDT
Heck of a job, Chertoff!
The head of Homeland Security says he has a “gut feeling” the U.S. will face a terror attack this summer, but offers no evidence or advice on what to do.
By Joan Walsh
Today’s head scratcher is Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff’s decision to tell the Chicago Tribune that he has a “gut feeling” we’re in for a terror attack sometime this summer.
New York (NY) Times
As the Nation’s Pulse Races, Obama Can’t Seem to Find His
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 29, 2009
Heck of a job, Barry.
Heck u’va job, Janet
Date published: 12/31/2009
HECKUVA JOB, Janet. Somebody had to say that after Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano made a ridiculous claim following the near-bombing of an airplane approaching Detroit on Christmas Day. With a straight face, she managed to say, “One thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked.”
Washington (DC) Post
A terrorist war Obama has denied
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, January 1, 2010
Janet Napolitano—former Arizona governor, now overmatched secretary of homeland security—will forever be remembered for having said of the attempt to bring down an airliner over Detroit: “The system worked.” The attacker’s concerned father had warned U.S. authorities about his son’s jihadist tendencies. The would-be bomber paid cash and checked no luggage on a transoceanic flight. He was nonetheless allowed to fly, and would have killed 288 people in the air alone, save for a faulty detonator and quick actions by a few passengers.
Heck of a job, Brownie.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • (0) Comments • Friday, January 01, 2010 • Permalink