Of Czars and Secretaries
Trying to respond to the concerns of fringe political movements is a bit like pouring water on a grease fire: It seems like it should work, but it really, really doesn't. That's why I've basically stayed out of this "czar" nonsense. But with Mitt Romney lamely jumping on the bandwagon, it's worth making one point: Calling someone a "czar" is a piece of gentle mockery. Compared with appointees who travel through Senate confirmation, they're not powerful. In Washington, you don't want to be a "czar." You want to be a "secretary."
Tom Daschle is a good example. His nomination blew up amid the Senate Finance Committee's financial audit. But there was a reason he was undergoing the grueling confirmation process rather than simply serving as director of the White House Office of Health Reform: Being confirmed as secretary of health and human services would give him more power. In particular, it would put him in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare and Medicaid, among much else. Simply serving as the White House's health czar would have meant a much more constrained gig.
Van Jones was a special adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, or as the media referred to him, a "green jobs czar." He would've rather been secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency. Ron Bloom is the senior adviser for the president's Automotive Task Force, or the "car czar." But he'd have a lot more power as secretary of the Treasury. Richard Clarke served George W. Bush as national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection, and counter-terrorism, or the "counter-terrorism czar," but he'd have had a lot more pull as secretary of defense.
And that, of course, is the joke: In Washington, the czars lack power and the secretaries have enormous clout. Get it? 'Cause Glenn Beck sure doesn't.
Photo credit: Helayne Seidman for The Washington Post.
Posted by: teoc2 | September 21, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: etdean1 | September 21, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: nylund | September 21, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bdballard | September 21, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: JEinATL | September 21, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: teoc2 | September 21, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: thehersch | September 21, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tomtildrum | September 21, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: itch | September 21, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: WrongfulDeath | September 21, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: visionbrkr | September 21, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tyromania | September 22, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.