Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

April 27, 2009


Sam Smith - According to David J. Rothkopf at Foreign Policy: "The Obama administration has by any reasonable reckoning passed the Romanov dynasty in the production of czars." Obama now has at least 18 czars.

Even though Rothkopf rightly notes that "all this czarism is a risky business that ends up producing bureaucratic bottlenecks, tensions and inefficiency when not managed extremely carefully," he - along with most other observers - misses an essential point.

The naming of czars is an run around the constitution. They are people not required to have senatorial confirmation. By assembling such a group, Obama has nearly and quietly diminished the role of the constitutionally required cabinet, as well as the Senate's participation in same.

True, if you're going to have an imperial presidency, we guess you have to expect a bunch of czars as well, but it's one more quiet sign of the America's declining interest in democracy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering how the repulsivecans are the party of no and refuse to cooperate on anything, it seems like a pretty good idea.

April 27, 2009 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word "Czar" is derived from "Caesar." Goodbye Republic of America; hello mighty American Empire. The only problem is whereas Rome was growing when Caesar hijacked the government, America is collapsing in the international arena.

April 27, 2009 11:39 PM  
Blogger Samson said...

The 10:37 comment shows the problem with the Democrats. First there's an article that ends by pointing out that the creation of 'czars' is an end-run around the Consitution, and a sign of our declining democracy.

Then we get a comment, presumably from a Democrat, that says that since the Republicans are 'the party of no', it seems like a pretty good idea.

This is why our democracy is disappearing. We have two political parties who feel that beating the other is the goal to be obtained at all costs. And that if minor little details like the Constitution and the idea of democracy get in the way, well that's just too bad.

The Constitution set up a series of checks and balances. In this case, what were supposed to be the highest ranking officials in the government, ie the cabinet officers, need the 'advise and consent' of the US Senate. That's a democratic check and balance. Its designed to help to keep the Executive Branch from getting too much power.

The Democrats will gladly dispense with all of that just to get what they want. Which is why the Democrats are just as dangerous as the Republicans to the health of our democracy. They complain about Bush's powers while out of office, then say anything is justified when in office.

April 28, 2009 1:27 AM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

Yours is a needed point, Samson. Binary political choices make people narrow and stupid.

April 28, 2009 6:21 AM  

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