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What’s with all the ‘czars’?…

Post by Michael Allen on July 31, 2009 at 10:46 am with 4 Comments »
July 31, 2009 10:46 am

I don’t get this "czar" thing. When did it start? Can I blame it on Nixon? Carter? Maybe the Gipper’s "drug czar"? Or can we blame it on Bill Clinton for making Hillary the "health czar"? And poor Bill Bennett. He started out as a bona fide secretary of education, but by the time he got recycled into the second Bush administration, he too had to be a "czar."

Folks, "czars" are from Russia. They are monarchists. Hereditary autocrats. Authoritarians.

This is America. This is a republic. We don’t have "czars" in America.

Well, yes we do . . .

It seems the Democrats are now outdoing the GOP in this "czar" business. Congressman Eric Cantor, R-Va., in a recent Washington Post article, listed a few of President Obama’s "czars":

"The administration has a Mideast peace czar (not to be confused with the Mideast policy czar), a Sudan czar and a Guantanamo closure czar. Then there’s the green jobs czar, sometimes in conflict with the energy czar, who talks to the technology czar, who sometimes crosses paths with the urban affairs czar.

“We mustn’t forget the Great Lakes czar or the WMD czar, who no doubt works hand in hand with the terrorism czar. The stimulus accountability czar is going through a rough time right now, as is the TARP czar – but thankfully they have to answer to the government performance czar. And seemingly everyone falls under the auspices of the information czar. In a government full of duplicative bureaucracies, adding more layers with overlapping responsibilities hardly seems the way to go."

To be sure, Cantor exaggerates a wee bit. But the above quote doesn’t even include Obama’s famed "car czar" (who, BTW, recently quit; I can hear Michelle saying, "Barry, you gotta appoint a new car czar pronto!")

OK, OK, I’m almost through with the "Czar" rant. But let me end emphatically: In America, we don’t want no steenking "czars"! Hey, all you "czars" out there: Get real jobs!

Taking notice
Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. derekyoung says:

    I think it’s kinda funny how people have suddenly become concerned about this. It’s not even a formal title. They are just department or policy directors. For example, the “Drug Czar” isn’t Kerlikowski’s title; it’s Director of National Drug Control Policy.

    I’m not even sure why there seems to be concern it’s wasteful. In every case I can think of, the positions are actually efforts at streamlining the system. For example, when you have lots of different agencies in charge of counter-terrorism, having someone coordinate them can help reduce redundancy.

    I agree the title “czar” is silly. Kinda in the way we add “gate” to the end of every supposed political scandal. But it’s not a sign of some underhanded power grab or massive expansion of government.

  2. johnesherman says:

    So, to pick on the ‘czars’ of the Federal Government: at least takes the attention away from just how many people today are employed or contracted by the Federal Government employment in total numbers. Anybody know how many people provide value added services paid for by Federal ‘Taxpayers’ dollars?

  3. “Get real jobs” You mean like writing about something relevant?
    Nothing new.

  4. Cheryl Tucker says:

    I’m guessing that use of “czar” can be traced back to headline writers who needed a shorter word than “director.” In headline count, “czar” is only a 3.5, while “director” is a 6.

    These are the same folks who for many years used “solon” (4.5) because it’s shorter than “lawmaker” (8) or “congressman” (11!).

    You hardly ever see “solon” anymore, so maybe there’s hope that “czar” will fade away, too.

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