False Conservative Claims Regarding Czars Appointed by Obama

Conservatives have been making a lot of noise about czars recently as a threat to the Constitution. The first clue that their argument is based upon a number of factual errors is that, as Factcheck.org points out, this charge is being led by the idiotic and irresponsible Fox anchor Glenn Beck:

There’s been a certain fascination with calling Obama’s advisers and appointees “czars.” Fox News host Glenn Beck has identified 32 Obama czars on his Web site, whom he has characterized as a collective “iceberg” threatening to capsize the Constitution. Beck and other television hosts aren’t the only ones crying czar, either. Six Republican senators recently sent a letter to the White House saying that the creation of czar posts “circumvents the constitutionally established process of ‘advise and consent.’ ” Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah issued a press release saying that czars “undermine the constitution.” And Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison wrote an opinion column in the Washington Post complaining about the czar menace, including the factually inaccurate claim that only “a few of them have formal titles.”

While Beck claims that Obama has appointed 32 czars, Factcheck shows that the number is actually only eight:

  • Nine were confirmed by the Senate, including the director of national intelligence (“intelligence czar“), the chief performance officer (“government performance czar“) and the deputy interior secretary (“California water czar“).
  • Eight more were not appointed by the president – the special advisor to the EPA overseeing its Great Lakes restoration plan (“Great Lakes czar“) is EPA-appointed, for instance, and the assistant secretary for international affairs and special representative for border affairs (“border czar“) is appointed by the secretary of homeland security.
  • Fifteen of the “czarships” Beck lists, including seven that are in neither of the above categories, were created by previous administrations. (In some cases, as with the “economic czar,” the actual title – in this case, chairman of the president’s economic recovery advisory board – is new, but there has been an official overseeing the area in past administrations. In others, as with the special envoy to Sudan, the position is old but the “czar” appellation is new.)
  • In all, of the 32 positions in Beck’s list, only eight are Obama-appointed, unconfirmed, brand new czars.

I’ve previously noted that many right wingers who are engaged in a smear campaign against Cass Sunstein, including Glenn Beck, are falsely claiming he is a czar despite the fact that he requires Senate confirmation for his position.

The actual czars are generally in positions where there is no permanent post which is subject to Senate confirmation. Often czars deal with managing new areas of interest for a current administration, holding positions which are often temporary and which did not exist in the past.

Putting this number in perspective Factcheck notes that the Democratic National Committee counts 47 czars appointed by George W. Bush. Factcheck also disagrees with the characterization of some of them as czars and reduces the number to 35. This included the “faith-based czar” and the “cybersecurity czar.” Once again, the right wing has suddenly discovered a problem under Barack Obama which they were never concerned about under Republican administrations.

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7 Comments

  1. 1
    Jimmy says:

    As usual you have missed the point. First of all, the right wing has been complaining about Czars since the Regan administration began the war on drugs and appointed a drug czar. Please do not confuse the right wing with the Republican party.

    As far as Glenn beck, he is not attacking the fact that there are czars but the people who fill those positions and what they have told us that they intend to do. This is a group of activists who intend to discard the very foundation of our nation and replace it with a progressive/socialist style of government. You may believe in that philosophy but you can’t really expect everyone to lay down and let them redistribute our freedoms without a fight.

    Finally, it is not a smear campaign… but the fact that you see it that way is proof that Glenn is right. He has only used their own words to show everyone what is really going on. He shows the information that they had hoped to hide. You should ask yourself if you like that our current administration is supressing it’s own history and philosophy while it expands its power. The majority of America would not approve of the kind of people who are being appointed (by Obama as well as the rest of government) to powerful positions without accountability. That is the point of the whole czar thing!

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    “As usual you have missed the point. ”

    I would figure that someone who lives in the delusional world of the far right would see it this way. To you it doesn’t matter that pretty much every fact that Glenn Beck basis his arguments on is false. The far right doesn’t care about facts as opposed to making things up to support their fantasy world.

    “Please do not confuse the right wing with the Republican party.”

    Certainly there isn’t a 100% overlap but it is notable that most right wingers fell in line with Reagan when president and then Bush when president. Once it is clear that the policies of those they have supported have failed miserably, then the right wing tries to separate from those they previously supported.

    “Finally, it is not a smear campaign… ”

    He is spreading derogatory and false claims about those he dislikes. Most people would see this as a smear campaign. The right wing sees this as business as usual.

    “He has only used their own words to show everyone what is really going on.”

    No, he lies about what people say, and people like you are too dumb to do even the most basic of fact checking to realize he is lying. When he uses “their own words” he takes them totally out of context and lies about their meaning.

    “The majority of America would not approve of the kind of people who are being appointed…”

    False. That is why the far right has to resort to smear tactics and lying about the types of people who are being appointed to create fear.

  3. 3
    b-psycho says:

    Um…Jimmy?:

    This is a group of activists who intend to discard the very foundation of our nation and replace it with a progressive/socialist style of government.

    Really, socialists run the government?  Care to square that with the continuing bank bailouts and balking at the idea that there ought to be strings attached to that money (though really they should never have seen a dime)?
    The only REMOTELY “socialist” thing the Obama administration has done was the GM takeover, and they only did that because merely bailing them out too was politically even less palatable.  Even then, they squeezed the UAW for concessions as if it was all their fault.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    The GM takeover might remotely be called socialist, but even that is a stretch. It ignores the facts that GM desired the bailout as opposed to going under, and that the bailout is structured with the hopes that GM recovers as a private company. A true socialist would not only want to maintain control of GM but would be looking to nationalize other companies and industries. (Of course the right wingers would also falsely claim that health care reform is an effort to nationalize health care, which sure contradicts the support from the AMA for the House bill and their opposition to the more conservative Senate Finance Committee bill).

    With many on the right wing confusing the crony capitalism of the GOP with capitalism, and failing to take into account the fact that Obama is responding to a crisis by taking actions different from what he would do under normal circumstances, they fail to see the degree to which Obama has been influenced by the Chicago School. While it is understandable that supporters of pure laizzez-faire capitalism would still object to Obama’s actions, Obama is likely the strongest supporter of capitalism we have had as president in ages.

    Perhaps that is why some in the right wing are so adamant at mislabeling Obama a socialist. With all the lip service pro-Republican commentators give to capitalism (while the GOP undermines capitalism), it doesn’t help their cause if people realize that the Democrats are now closer to supporting capitalism than the Republicans. Similarly, as noted in the post on Cass Sunstein this links to, many right wingers see a need to smear Sunstein so their followers won’t realize the degree to which some Obama advisers support a more libertarian attitude towards government regulation.

  5. 5
    b-psycho says:

    My preference was for GM to be broken up with the pieces subject to syndicalist seizures by its union workers.  That would’ve actually been socialist, albeit in a different way than your description.

  6. 6
    Roy says:

    I finally heard someone make sense. The comment of not confusing the right wing with the
    Republican party is so true. My feelings are that these extremest not only are going to cost the GOP the elections, but there going to bring down
    the rep party. Difference of opinions and policies are healthy within civil discourse to better a nation
    However when discourse turns to extreme obsessive behavior it is only divisive and detrimental to any civil nation

  7. 7
    Roy says:

    Also in regards to Beck, he should have been institionalzed years ago , maybe some day he will be able to advance to the level of insanity where as he could actually replace Rush .

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