Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 11, 2009

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A CZAR.... Karl Rove was asked this week, "What's going on with all the czars?" The question, apparently, was in response to administration announcements regarding "czars" on environmental policies. Rove, via Twitter, responded:

"[D]arned if I can figure out all the czars, except a giant expansion of presidential power."

Is that so. The creation of administrative czars is dubious, Rove believes, because if there's one thing conservatives worry about, it's the undue expansion of presidential power.

It's interesting to hear Rove come to this conclusion now, given the extraordinary Bush/Cheney affinity for czars. Kyle Schmidt noted that Rove himself was deemed the "domestic policy czar" in the Bush White House.

Schmidt also reminds me that I wrote a piece on this subject a couple of years ago, which sought to detail the Bush administration's reflexive creation of new czars for every conceivable policy challenge. In the span of about six years, Rove's White House oversaw the creation of a "food safety czar," a "cybersecurity czar," a "regulatory czar," an "AIDS czar," a "manufacturing czar," an "intelligence czar," a "bird-flu czar," and a "Katrina czar."

It was such a common strategy for Bush, Rove, and the gang, that it quickly became the butt of jokes. Newsweek satirist Andy Borowitz suggested in 2007 that the White House needed a "lying czar" to "oversee all distortions and misrepresentations."

Rove, in other words, is complaining about the creation of policy czars, after the White House he helped run oversaw the creation of policy czars.

There's a reason I call this guy the Original King of Irony.

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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minor nit: undo ==> undue

Posted by: marku on July 11, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, it's "undue" expansion, not "undo" expansion.

Posted by: noncarborundum on July 11, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I said it before, I'll say it again.. Rove's obviously just tossing back everything that was said about his administration. You should start a checklist of all the major criticisms of the Bush years, and mark 'em off as Rove fires them back. I guarantee you he has a list just like it.

Posted by: Shag on July 11, 2009 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Well, maybe we can get the media to "undo" Rove and just start ignoring the turd.

Posted by: tomeck on July 11, 2009 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Being more of a purist, perhaps Tsar Rove preferred Tsar.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 11, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

It's an instinctive reflex of authoritarians to imagine that the answer to any given problem it for unrestricted power to be given to a single authority figure. Bottom-up input and listening to a variety of expert viewpoints isn't on their radar. Thus the proliferation of czars under CheneyCo.

Having the Obama administration continue with the same notions is a really bad habit that ought to stop.

Posted by: jimBOB on July 11, 2009 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, but you see, the Bush Administration czars were simply ways to put cronies on the taxpayer tit without requiring them to actually, y'know, DO something. What bothers Karl Rove is that under the Obama Administration these czars are making changes and advancing policy. To a dyed-in-the-wool Repug, it's always a bad sign when government actually gets something done.

Posted by: DrGail on July 11, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Up the memory hole

Remember Glenn Greenwald's interview with Bill Moyers on the Bush Presidency?
Here is the first part:


To cut to the chase go to the 5 minute mark and tune your ears to this pharse: wildly expanding executive power. Thereafter, the going really gets good!

It's always nice to remember some recent Bush-Rove history...

Posted by: koreyel on July 11, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

The "genius" of Karl Rove has always consisted of accusing your opponents of what you yourself are doing, combined with a dose of claiming that your opponents strengths are actually weaknesses.

Posted by: qwerty on July 11, 2009 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

the non-ironic part of shit-for-heart rove's plaint is that these obama-czars will be competent and will actually be assigned problem-solving tasks they can do to accomplish something for the american peeps.

rove's czars (and he himself) were all about stealing from the american people and enhancing their own power. AND many of them were asshat incompetents (et tu Brownie...)

they belong in prison for treason.

Posted by: neill on July 11, 2009 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Rove, in other words, is complaining about the creation of policy czars, after the White House he helped run oversaw the creation of policy czars.

And don't think for a moment that the turd czar is not aware of this.

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on July 11, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Rove will keep doing this because, as we've seen, he will incur no penalty for this. He does not get called on his lies, he is still given a national platform, is still invited to comment on politics, is still taken seriously. Until the national media get the balls to call him on his lies, he will continue to spout them.

Posted by: PaulB on July 11, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Here in Chicago, there's a sports talk show which has a weekly segment that asks listeners to identify contradictory or moronic statements that someone said over those past seven days. The segment, inspired by a Mike Ditka quote, is called "Who Ya Crappin'?!"

Karl Rove ... Who Ya Crappin'?!?!

Posted by: EdgewaterJoe on July 11, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove complaining about Obama's "giant expansion of presidential power" is not irony. It's just plain ol' Lyin' Karl tossing shit in Obama's direction in the hope that it will stick.

Posted by: MattF on July 11, 2009 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

My favorite, the War Czar, LTG Douglas Lute.


When we already have a SecDef, CentCom, Joint Chiefs, etc.


Posted by: Walter Olin on July 11, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Rove, you little grub, please crawl back under your rock.

Posted by: mlm on July 11, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK
Steve: "There's a reason I call this guy the Original King of Irony."

Well, I'm really in no mood for irony. I prefer to call him just another right-wing Republican asshole who's sailing without a mainmast, rudder and moral compass.

If Republicans want to understand the political disaster that's befallen them and why, they need look no further than the conniving and duplicitous Mr. Rove, who may have set them back a generation. And if they don't stop listening to "Bush's Brain" and otherslike him, they'll soon find themselves whistling Dixie, simply because they're no longer capable of dancing to any other tune.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on July 11, 2009 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Being more of a purist, perhaps Tsar Rove preferred Tsar.

Meh. Tomato, tomahto. Can't we do away with the "czar" designation altogether?

When it comes to Republicans, isn't the correct word "führer"? Katrinaführer, Intelführer, Fabrikationführer, etc. See how it works? ;)

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on July 11, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Not to steal Secular's thunder but "irony" is not the word you're looking for. Rove is the King of Liars. He lies. That's all he does.

Posted by: ckelly on July 11, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Who in the world is still asking Karl Rove questions about *anything*? This man is so beyond contempt he makes Sarah Palin look pleasant. No, he needs to go the way of Newt Gingrich - marginalized into obscurity.

Posted by: Limbaugh's Diabetes on July 11, 2009 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

And of course the double-reverse irony is that every one of the Shrub czars Steve mentions...

"food safety czar," a "cybersecurity czar," a "regulatory czar," an "AIDS czar," a "manufacturing czar," an "intelligence czar," a "bird-flu czar," and a "Katrina czar."

...was at best a non-entity, and in most cases stood by as things allegedly under their supervision got much, much worse.

Posted by: efgoldman on July 11, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Big government is like a runaway train. Big government is our shepherd; the bigger it gets the more we lack !!! That wisdom comes from The Congressional Spending Psalm

Posted by: Gary Marchinke on July 11, 2009 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

Executive power is only bad when it enforces regulations against corporate power and/or helps the bottom 50-90% of the population.

Posted by: Slaney Black on July 11, 2009 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Pres. Bush had 12 Czars, but Pres. the wonderful Obama has 32 +, I would say that is just a few more!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: ssmith on July 11, 2009 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

A lot of Bush's czars didn't have any rights-invading powers. Rove couldn't shut down profitable car dealerships, for example.

W/ the Bush Admin., "czar" was mostly a nickname. W/ the Obama Admin, "czar" is, sadly, an accurate title.

Posted by: patrick on July 12, 2009 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

If you could write an article way back when lambasting Bush and friends for creating czars why is it now okay for Ocrapa to create them? Do the lame jokes no longer apply? The hypocracy of you people is astounding!

Posted by: JMG on July 12, 2009 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

There's a reason I call this guy the Original King of Irony.

Oh, come on, just say it... he's the "Irony Czar". You know you want to.

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Posted by: Danny on August 7, 2009 at 4:16 AM | PERMALINK

You left out two of Bush's czars:

-- the intelligence czar

-- the Iraqi war czar

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