Friday, November 25, 2005

Adventures in consulting

To: Colin Powell
From: Donald Rumsfeld
Re: Transitions


Have we had our disagreements? Yes. Did I undermine you at every turn? Yes. Is it a bit odd for me to be reaching out to you now? Of course. But you have some experience as an ex-Adminstration bigwig, and I will soon be following. Will my record of failure hold a candle to yours? No. How should you interpret that sentence? Well, there are things we know, and things we know we don't know, and ...

Anyway, I'll be heading off into retirement with the prospects I have, not the successes I wish I had. Sure, I'll be financially set with my Gilead stock, but is that enough for me? No. Do I have some ideas about what to do next? Yes.

I assume you are aware that Michael Brown is setting up a consulting business.

He learned his lessons, and now they're for sale.

Ousted FEMA director Michael Brown, who was vilified over his handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, plans to make a fresh start in Colorado, selling his expertise about how emergency planning can go right or so very wrong.

"You have to do it with candor. To do it otherwise gives you no credibility," Brown said Wednesday. "I think people are curious: 'My gosh, what was it like? The media just really beat you up. You made mistakes. I don't want to be in that situation. How do I avoid that?' "

In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News, Brown acknowledged key mistakes he made while overseeing the federal response to the hurricane that ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi. He also lashed out at the media and discussed plans to base his fledgling consulting business in the Boulder-Longmont area of Colorado, where he lived before joining the Bush Administration in 2001.

"Look, Hurricane Katrina showed how bad disasters can be, and there's an incredible need for individuals and businesses to understand how important preparedness is," he said. "So if I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses _ because that goes straight to the bottom line _ then I hope I can help the country in some way."

Well, I think he is on to something. And is my judgment impressive? Yes it is.

So here is my proposal: After I tender my resignation, I will join up with him and specialize in success through downsizing and creating operational efficiencies. And in the spirit of reconcilliation, and to minimize the chances that you'll knife me the way you have a few of our friends, I'd like to bring you in as well.

Do I think you have valuable expertise to share? Absolutely. I think you would be a valuable asset as a lecturer in the effectiveness of standing on principle and the power of persuasion.

Are there further opportunities to grow this organization? Sure. We could bring in Tom Delay to teach ethics. Paul Bremer on excellence in organization-building. George Tenet could advise on sizing up the competition. And maybe in a few years, 43 could join us and speak about how to avoid the trap of surrounding yourself with yes-men.

Oh, and please tell Wilkerson to STFU.


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