Forget becoming Communist Russia, try a cabinet filled with all-powerful czars. When "climate czar" first popped into our lexicon earlier this week, I thought it was a one-time title for Al Gore because he's already been vice president — a cabinet title would practically be a demotion — and it has a nice ring to it. And because, really, how can there be a climate czar without it being Al Gore?
Well Al Gore doesn't want the job, and a slew of new czar titles have been tossed around this week: auto czar, tech czar, energy czar, education czar, style czar (joking! . . . but Tim Gunn, yes?). What makes a czar different from a regular cabinet secretary? To find out, read more.
Czar is really just a slang term in the US for a government position with lots of power. They report directly to the president instead of the president's chief of staff, so any czars in the Obama administration can work around what will likely be Rahm Emanuel's tight grip.
Don't think the US doesn't already have czars, though. The senate voted to establish a drug czar in 1982 to control US drug policy, and the Bush administration established a terrorism czar, war czar (though Bush never found any takers so the position remains open), and cybersecurity czar (highest ranking position in Homeland Security). Just last month, Congress agreed to appoint a copyright czar, which will be named by President-elect Obama.
I'd take a world with copyright and climate czars over war and terrorism czars any day. But what's the point anyway? Is it dangerous to give one person so much power, or a good way to get a lot accomplished?