Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who 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

September 9, 2009


Sam Smith, Progressive Review - Increasingly, the establishment liberal solution to the problem of rightwing rants is to rant right back. It doesn't help much, particularly when they end up defending screw-ups on the part of the Democratic Congress or the White House that are indefensible. Further, they tend to call anyone who doesn't go along with the liberal screw-up a conservative extremist. A case in point is the reaction of the liberal think pit, Center for American Progress, whose blog, the Progress Report, went to stunning lengths to defend Obama's manic appointment of "czars."

[][] The right wing's new conspiracy-based campaign against the Obama administration deals with special advisers to the President that conservatives and media are referring to as "czars." Far-right activists are using Obama's appointment of these special advisers to complain that he is trying to vastly expand the powers of the president and remove his appointees from accountability. Many of these attacks have been led by right-wing pundits and talk radio luminaries like Glenn Beck, who has referred to Obama's appointment of special advisers as a "power grab." Beck's most recent scaremongering campaign compelled Obama's green jobs adviser Van Jones to resign his post. [][]

In fact, it was that lefty journal, the Progressive Review, that was one of the first to criticize the practice months ago. It's an end run around the Constitution, a way to weaken the cabinet and to avoid Senate confirmation, and it is one of the worst things you could call anyone in a purported democracy.

Now if the director of the Center for American Progress were to murder his mother, I suspect Glenn Beck would have some harsh words to say about that, too, but that doesn't justify the murder.

Think Progress correctly notes that these czars "have been a staple of American politics and the modern presidency for decades" although only a few decades and in a far more limited fashion than with Obama. But, history is not in itself a justification for something. As my mother used to tell me, "Just because Johnny jumped off bridge doesn't mean you should."

There are other strange arguments such as "Conservatives have begun using Obama's 'czar' appointments to attack the President and remove his ability to appoint sorely needed advisers" as if no other president ever sorely needed advisers.

Presidential appointed czars were a bad idea when they started a few decades ago. The practice is deceitful and the name the antithesis of constitutional semiotics. The fact that neither Obama nor his spin pals at Think Progress understand this is troublesome.

Further, when you do something that makes Glenn Beck sound reasonable, that's a good sign you've screwed up.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a limit to how far you can go without starting to use alternative methods to run the country if the opposition party is refusing your regular nominees even the courtesy of an up-or-down vote for confirmation. Aren't at least 30% of the posts vacant right now?

September 9, 2009 7:17 PM  
Anonymous wellbasically said...

Come on, the czar-craving is heavier among Democrats than any other group. Democrats love a big authority figure telling the little people what to do.

September 9, 2009 11:52 PM  

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