Tag Archives: Czars

But Don’t Call Them Czars

Eight years ago, when President Obama took office, Faux News and others spent a good chunk of their time complaining about President Obama’s use of “czars.”  By czar, they meant members of the White House staff who did not have to face Senate confirmation who were assigned responsibility for certain policy areas.  Now that Republicans are back in the White House, they are about to learn the same lesson that the George W. Bush and the Obama Administrations knew — that the White House staff serves an important role in a functioning government.  But, you can be pretty sure that these positions will not be referred to as czars by Fox News.

There are several reasons why Presidents tend to depend on “staff” advisors rather than executive branch people subject to Senate confirmation.  The first reason has to do with the nature of Senate confirmations.

Most of our allies are parliamentary democracies.  While there is some distinction between the appointees to ministries (mostly members of parliament) and the Prime Ministers personal staff, the bottom line in most parliamentary democracies is that parliament does not individually confirm members of the government.  Depending on the country, parliament may have a single vote to approve the entire government (but, in others, the government takes power without any formal vote).  This process puts the full government in place on Day 1 of the new government.

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