Except....it turns out that they're only cesspools of incompetence during certain eras. See if you can spot the trend here:
George H.W. Bush: Appoints Wallace Stickney, head of New Hampshire's Department of Transportation, as head of FEMA. Stickney is a hapless choice and the agency is rapidly driven into the ditch: "Because FEMA had 10 times the proportion of political appointees of most other government agencies, the poorly chosen Bush appointees had a profound effect on the performance of the agency."
Bill Clinton: Appoints James Lee Witt, former head of the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services, as head of FEMA. The agency is reborn as a professional operation: "As amazing as it sounds, Witt was the first FEMA head who came to the position with direct experience in emergency management....On Witt's recommendation, Clinton filled most of the FEMA jobs reserved for political appointees with persons who had previous experience in natural disasters and intergovernmental relations."
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