Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Czar Wars


Pundits use the title "czar" for high-level executive branch officials who direct or oversee activities on a given topic or who coordinate policies between different departments on a given topic. The drug czar heads the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the cyber-security czar is the highest-ranking Department of Homeland Security official on computer security and information security policy, etc. The title is also used for specialized advisors to the President, such as the counter-terrorism czar, who (you can probably guess) advises the President on terrorism policy.

Glen Beck, Fox News, and other conservative pundits are making a big protest over how Obama has thirty two of these czars that advise him. The big furor apparently revolves around the fact that czar's aren't approved and answerable to congress, unlike Cabinet positions. Secretary of Defense, State, Homeland Security, etc. So Obama is apparently surrounded himself with unelected and "unaccountable" advisors, and somehow this is some reason Americans should be worried about socialism, bloated government bureaucracy, blah, blah, blah.

Ignoring the chatter of pundits like Beck and focusing on the facts shows that Obama has 31 Czar's in his administration. That's definately more than virtually every administration before him. Czar's have been around since the 40's, but ignoring the ones created during World War Two, there are only typically about one or two of them per administration. To put it in perspective, Reagan had one, Bush Sr. had two, Clinton had six, and George W. Bush had 35 czars. So Obama having 31 is a huge problem for conservatives, yet strangely enough they didn't have any problem with the practice back when George W. Bush was in office. Now that a Democrat is in office, it's ok to attack the President for surrounding himself with "unaccountable" advisors.

There is an argument to be made against the practice, but it's hard to take conservatives seriously when they didn't register a single protest until a Democrat became president. If history is any indication, the righteous indignation of convservatives to take a moral stance against big government always seems to evaporate when a Republican is in office. It's pretty clear that (like health care) conservative pundits aren't serious in debating the issue, as they simply automatically attack the President on any subject with the underlying reasons being that Obama has the audacity to be a Democrat.

In short, nothing has changed for the Party of No.

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