Czar wars: After axing Van Jones, conservatives sharpen knives in hunt for more Obama blood [Updated]
The one-time Marxist who had said a bad word about Republicans in February and signed a 9/11 conspiracy petition in 2001 resigned at midnight Saturday, in the middle of a holiday weekend. [Updated 2:30 p.m.: Jones was also a co-founder of Color of Change, which later launched an ad boycott of Glenn Beck's program. But Fox News insists that Beck's venom against Jones was not payback; the anchor had been ferreting out the more unsavory footnotes in Jones' vita before the boycott began, a publicist told us.]
Now Georgia Republican Jack Kingston, in one of those you-can't-make-this-stuff-up moments, is threatening to put all 34 Obama administration czars -- in every area from science to diversity -- under a microscope. In a recent op-ed on his website, Kingston argued:
In its day, czarist Russia had just 18 czars in 300 years. In just seven months, President Obama has nearly doubled that number. At this rate, we’ll have 272 czars by 2012. Who are these people and why are they necessary? Why do we need an Energy Czar and a Secretary of Energy? Why do we need a TARP Czar and a Secretary of Treasury? Why was a 31 year old with no background in the auto industry and who drives a foreign car appointed as the Auto Recovery Czar? What qualifies a college professor to set executive salaries?
To remedy the situation, Kingston has introduced H.R. 3226, the Czar Accountability and Reform Act, which would bar all funds to presidential envoys not confirmed by the Senate.
Other conservatives, smelling blood in the water, are sharpening their knives. Already, Fox's Beck has alerted his Twitter followers to "find everything you can on Cass Sunstein (the regulatory czar), Mark Lloyd (FCC diversity czar), and Carol Browner (energy czar)."
Sustein, a Harvard Law professor, is being castigated by the right for his support of animals. Lloyd is being portrayed as a disciple of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Browner, who served in the Clinton White House, is now seen as a socialist.
MSNBC's Keith Obermann, incensed by his Fox counterpart's efforts to root out scandal about the Obama czars, has responded by asking viewers to "send every bit of direct you can find" on Glenn Beck, his radio producer Stu Burguiere and Roger Ailes, the brainchild behind Fox News.
Maybe the czar wars will be good for cable television, but are they good for democracy?
Let us know what you think.
-- Johanna Neuman