Try Saying "Czar" With A Western Twang

Joe Lieberman keeps making me fond of him in spite of myself. Congress has been discussing the legitimacy of "czars" -- a term which used to mean the head of some isolated special project, but has come to mean a person with cabinet-level authority not vetted in any way by the Congress. I hate the czars, but I don't know why Congress is surprised. It created them by being so stupid and political in the petty sense about confirmation hearings. Corrupt a process, and you stop nothing, you just force a circumvention of law, to the detriment of the rule of law.

Stop me before I rant too much. Too late? Sorry.

Here's what Lieberman said about it:
"I will ask the witnesses if there isn't some more American title that we could use instead of 'czar,' " he announced, calling the term "ethnically inappropriate" and a bit too "autocratic."

Recognizing a chance for shtick, Lieberman described a scene from "Fiddler on the Roof" when one of the townsfolk asks the rabbi if there is a prayer for the czar. "The rabbi answers, 'Yes, my son, there is. It is: God bless and keep the czar -- far away from us.' May I paraphrase that prayer this morning: God bless and keep the title 'czar' forevermore away from the American government. I'm going to try to do my best not to use the word 'czar' in this regard again."

You know, actually, I take it back, I don't like Lieberman for this upon second reading, because he's taking the word away without objecting to the fact. Olympia Snowe's more honest when she replies

I will continue to call them czars

Call 'em what they are. If "czar" calls up the image "unelected tyrant," well...good.

Get how the conversation continued:

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) had a solution, based on his service in the Nixon administration. "The White House is a court, the president is the king, the White House staffers are courtiers," he said, "and it is the century-long duty of every courtier to keep everybody else from having access to the king."

Lieberman mulled over this substitution of "courtier" for "czar." "That actually describes more appropriately the powers," the chairman said. "But it's not quite American enough."

Good night. This is a Republican Senator? Does it occur to no one that the problem isn't that the words aren't American enough, it's that the position isn't democratic enough? or republican enough, either? (Please to note lower case "d" and "r".)

Franklin's "if" is starting to look pretty big, no?