The New York Times’ Mark Leibovich has a zesty piece in Sunday’s Times, “The Tin-Star Title for the Too-Tough Job.” He starts out:
IN 19th-century Russia, Czar Nicolas I commissioned an official national anthem known as “God Save the Czar.”
In 21st-century Washington, the anthem would be more suitably titled “God Help the Czar.”
It’s not good to be the czar, not here, not now.
Leibovich called me on Thursday to chat about czars. Here are some of the comments:
“I don’t think any of the founding fathers looked to the Russian model,” said James Bovard, a libertarian writer and lecturer whose contemptuous essay in 2000, “Ten Thousand Czars,” made him something of an “anti-czar czar.” Mr. Bovard dismisses the appointment of General Lute as “the same old scam that politicians have used for a long time whenever there is a failing policy.”
Mr. Bovard proposes that government czars at least get to wear special hats, “like something from Gilbert and Sullivan,” to make them feel special and to differentiate them from other federal officials.
This is the first time – and the probably the only time – that I will ever be quoted making an opera reference.
I wasn’t able to think of a good bluegrass metaphor or analogy on the spur of that moment.