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KBH’s pathetic czar claims

I’m sure this silly WaPo op-ed by our senior Senator, in which she makes wild yet provably false claims about the rise of government “czars”, will be making the rounds of the Texas papers this week, so we may as well get a jump on demonstrating its disingenuousness.

Hutchison tries to make these officials seem shady and mysterious by noting that many of them don’t even have “formal titles”:

Nearly 250 years later, these critical lines of separation are being obscured by a new class of federal officials. A few of them have formal titles, but most are simply known as “czars.” They hold unknown levels of power over broad swaths of policy. Under the Obama administration, we have an unprecedented 32 czar posts (a few of which it has yet to fill), including a “car czar,” a “pay czar” and an “information czar.” There are also czars assigned to some of the broadest and most consequential topics in policy, including health care, terrorism, economics and key geographic regions.

In fact, ALL of these officials have formal titles. For example, Hutchison cites Van Jones, the “green jobs czar.” But Jones had the title of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation at the Council on Environmental Quality. The only person Obama has referred to as a czar is “drug czar” Gil Kerlikowske, whose official title is Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. (Additionally, “drug czar” was a term that existed long before the Obama administration.)

Hutchison’s lie mirrors a claim by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who recently said that the only reason he calls these appointees “czars” is “because the White House itself does.” Of course, it’s the media — not the White House — that is driving the term.

It sure would be nice if the op-ed page editors cared more about giving accurate information to their papers’ readers than in providing space for baseless attacks, but we apparently don’t live in that world. What’s more pathetic about this is that KBH’s piece isn’t even original to her – Rep. Eric Cantor made the same false claims six weeks ago. Can’t you come up with your own pander, Senator Hutchison?

UPDATE: Lisa Falkenberg chides KBH as well.

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  1. Joe White says:

    Yes, shame on KBH for having an unoriginal criticism, but not groundless; The White House does use the Czar nomenclature (nomenklatura?):

    In an interview on April 15, 2009 Obama said, “The goal of the border czar is to help coordinate all the various agencies that fall under the Department of Homeland Security…”

    In a March 11, 2009, briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs turned to “address the czar question for a minute, because I think I’ve been asked in this room any number of times if the czars in our White House to deal with energy and health care had too much power.”

    On March 11, 2009 Vice President Biden said, “Today I’m pleased to announce that President Obama has nominated as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy — our nation’s drug czar — Gil Kerlikowske…”


  2. Sure, but the point is that there’s nothing new about this. In particular, as noted in the White House response to all this nonsense, many of these “czars” are creations of the Bush administration. Needless to say, KBH and her fellow Republicans had no objections at the time, yet now we’re to believe that this is some threat to freedom? It’s ridiculous.

  3. […] Late in the summer, Texas secessionists rallied in Austin, with Perry’s call for Texas to secede drawing the group much attention. The Texas Observer’s blog points out Perry’s support for the extreme right has emboldened factions that were once considered fringe Republican elements. Meanwhile, Hutchison is scampering to the right with a Dick Cheney endorsement and pandering to fringers with Obama czar scares. […]