FEMA to Americans: Think of Us as Family

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose disaster relief track record is spotty at best, rarely conjures up warm images in the eyes of the American public.

In an apparent effort to revamp its image, the agency is billing itself as "federal family" in its latest disaster response efforts. 

"Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal, and territorial partners along the East Coast," a FEMA news release declared Aug. 26 as Hurricane Irene made landfall.

Some suggest the phrase "federal family" conjures images of big brother. 

''They're trying to personalize the federal government. But that ain't the way to do it,'' Republican political consultant Frank Luntz said.  

''Some smart Republican is going to come along and compare it to 1984 and Big Brother. It's 1984 all over again," he said.

Meanwhile, FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen was quick to note the term was not new. 

''The term 'federal family' is a phrase that FEMA has used frequently in public materials for years, spanning multiple administrations and federal responses to disasters,'' she said.

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