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Do We Need a Czar Czar? Obama Taps Eighth Policy Czar

Every president needs a drug czar, right? That's what the Obama administration must think, as it nominated Seattle's police chief to the position of drug czar, bringing the total number of czars to eight. That's the biggest team of czars ever to work for an American president.

R. Gil Kerlikowske will coordinate the US drug policy carried out by several federal agencies. What other policy aides share the title of Russian emperors gone by? Here's a rundown:

  • Energy and environment czar: Carol Browner
  • Health czar: Nancy-Ann DeParle
  • Urban affairs czar: Adolfo Carrion Jr
  • Economic czar: Paul A. Volcker
  • Regulatory czar: Cass R. Sunstein
  • Government performance czar: Unfilled since Nancy Killefer resigned

The anticzar crowd worries that too many amounts to a power grab by the executive branch, since czars don't need Senate approval. I say — let's make everyone an mini Russian emperor!

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nancita nancita 7 years
Haha! I have never understood the whole "czar" thing, but clearly, it's out of my hands now. Might as well go ahead and name a czar czar to get it under control.
skb9850 skb9850 7 years
I hear you GP. I've worked for serveral big companies in my career. At some point in time, most of the companies have appointed someone to bird dog a task that was most important to the company. Very similar to the czars the government is setting up. In every instant because the reporting structure was not clear and the company "czar" was not given any real authority, those tasks all failed, usually to the tune of millions of dollars.
Grandpa Grandpa 7 years
I was working for NYC when John Lindsay when he tried something similar when he combined various agencies and had their commissioners report to an administrator (The czar term was not in use then). Those Administrators had their own complete staff, filled with “the best and the brightest”. It proved a disaster as far as the city and in the end Lindsay’s political ambitions. It reached it’s peak of silliness in a snow storm that shut down the city because the ‘wonderkinders” knew better then the civil servants. I hope the czars are familiar with Mayor Lindsay’s experience.
stephley stephley 7 years
The previous drug czar, Bush's guy? Here's a CNS article about him: http://www.cnsnews.com/public/Content/Article.aspx?rsrcid=44141 Beyond that, you'd have to decide if you valued his focus and thus any accomplishments he claims.
skb9850 skb9850 7 years
My bad, I forgot we had a recent changing of the guard. Apply my question to the previous drug czar. What did he do, if anything? Steph, I'm not asking for qualifications. I'm asking for results.
stephley stephley 7 years
skb, what does your question mean? Are you asking if Kerlikowske has done anything specifically? He's been in law enforcement for three decades, including time in three different cities and the Justice Department so he's got a clear idea of federal and local operations, and knows how to run a large operation. He also has a son or step-son who has a history of drug arrests so he is aware of the problem on a personal level. Is he a miracle worker who will resolve all problems related to illegal drugs in the U.S.? No. No such person exists.
Roarman Roarman 7 years
Um no, as he was recently appointed.
skb9850 skb9850 7 years
"I am sure the task is spelled out to the people it needs to be. I am sure the "Drug Czar" is well aware of his tasks." And can you name anything specifically that the Drug Czar has done to improve whatever it is a drug czar does?
skb9850 skb9850 7 years
"So let me get this straight. You think because YOU don't know what these people's responsibilities will be, that they are not clearly spelled out to the people who are in them? Wow, after all this time on this site, I shouldn't be surprised. And yet, I am." Actually, I'm not saying I need to know what these people are going to do. I want to know if the people performing the jobs know how they report within the government structure. I think you place way too much faith in the government to think everyone knows exactly how these czars are supposed to carry out their jobs.
Roarman Roarman 7 years
"Unless things are clearly spelled out, whatever task/important area these people are supposed to be overseeing will not move forward " I am sure the task is spelled out to the people it needs to be. I am sure the "Drug Czar" is well aware of his tasks.
Jillness Jillness 7 years
"Unless things are clearly spelled out, whatever task/important area these people are supposed to be overseeing will not move forward' So let me get this straight. You think because YOU don't know what these people's responsibilities will be, that they are not clearly spelled out to the people who are in them? :oy: Wow, after all this time on this site, I shouldn't be surprised. And yet, I am.
em1282 em1282 7 years
As in, don't worry, y'all still live in America!
em1282 em1282 7 years
Eh, not like the term is anything new/exclusive to the Obama administration. So, whatevs. www.slate.com/id/2207055/
akgreen akgreen 7 years
you forgot performance czar..
babaloo babaloo 7 years
To answer the question: No we do not. Just another bureaucrat job in a government that is growing way to big.
skb9850 skb9850 7 years
How well defined are these positions? How do they fit in with the cabinet members? What powers do these people have? Unless things are clearly spelled out, whatever task/important area these people are supposed to be overseeing will not move forward as needed and they will indeed be another layer of bureaucracy.
Jillness Jillness 7 years
As far as delegating responsibility to get things done, Obama has a well proven track record. I find it pretty transparent when people criticize before they even see results. The fact of the matter is that you have employees, and you have issues to work on. However they organize them to get the job done doesn't matter to me. Just get the job done. People are so focused on semantics and titles, and those aren't even the actual titles of the positions! It is seriously absurd. One other interesting point, Obama demoted the Drug Czar from being a cabinet position.
stephley stephley 7 years
Which 'simple' decision on energy? Which 'simple' decision on the economy? Which 'simple' decision on regulations? Naming a person that you know everyone's going to nickname the 'czar' of something doesn't blur the line of responsibility, it's more like putting a bull's eye on them.
Grandpa Grandpa 7 years
It is another layer of bureaucracy to fight through to get a simple decision made, and further blurs the lines of responsibility, which means if something fails, why shazaam, no one is responsible, it improves nothing.
stephley stephley 7 years
Considering how many important areas have been long ignored or are staggered by the economic crisis, I can see why it might be a good idea to have people whose whole job is to focus on an initiative. It probably would help if the media stopped calling them czars, because the usage lost any meaning a long time ago.
hausfrau hausfrau 7 years
Czars sound to me like setting up a committee to decide what kind of comittee to set up.
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
Are we trying to sound like we are somehow part of the Russian government?
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 7 years
I know, me too! It's just such a funny word.
starangel82 starangel82 7 years
The fact that we have czars still amuses me to no end.
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