American Elephants

Obama’s House Of Czars by The Elephant's Child

Law Professor Glen Reynolds tackles the mystery of all those Czars in the White House. There are a lot of them, and they manage mysterious aspects of the American economy without the usually required confirmation by Congress. Why are they there and what do they do? At least two — Carol Browner and Van Jones— self-identified as a socialist and a communist respectively, have departed. Are the Czars just advisers or do they make policy? Very curious.

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I had previously thought that the czars started with Richard Nixon. Turns out that Franklin Roosevelt had a lot of them. By the administration of Dwight Eisenhower, however, they had gone out of fashion. (He had only one, who was approved by the Senate.)

Czars have certainly been popular under President Obama, but the real sudden growth in czars occurred under his predecessor, George W. Bush, who filled 33 czar positions with 49 appointees over the course of his eight years in office:


Comment by Subsidy Eye

I never heard the term “Czar” used in any administration until this one, outside of Russia.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Ben Zimmer, over at Slate, has a good article on the history of czardom in America.

My first recollection of the term was when Nixon appointed an “energy czar”, William E. Simon.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Waterboarding creates the illusion that one is drowning. It is frightening. There is no physical harm whatsoever. Frightening someone is not torture. John McCain was badly tortured, as were many others in the Hanoi Hilton. Some former POWs have no objection to waterboarding and do not consider it torture, because they know what real torture is. McCain, because of his experiences, does not want to be associated with anything that anyone calls torture. It is a reasonable position. And I don’t call anyone a RHINO. There is a wide range of opinion in the Republican and Libertarian parties, and we don’t divide up so neatly, though many think we do.

For Liberals (by which I do mean the Democrat party, but I prefer the term liberal) euphemisms are a necessary way to disguise their intent, because plainly stated, their policy could not get by the electorate. The president just argued, in his speech to the AP, that our country’s future depends on allowing our government to grow uncontrollably, and that any attempt to restrain its growth and keep its relation to the economy stable, would subject the nation to unimaginable horrors. It takes a lot of euphemisms to cover that up, but euphemisms will be found. And my definition of euphemism does not refer only to using a pretty word to cover up the ugly reality, but to the far broader effort to disguise what is actually being done.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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