New York Times Calls Me an “Anti-Czar Czar”

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.


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9 Responses to New York Times Calls Me an “Anti-Czar Czar”

  1. Scott May 19, 2007 at 10:17 pm #

    Ha! Thing is about a job like that – it’ll exist as long as America does.

    Second though, that might not be too long.

  2. Brian Wilson May 20, 2007 at 3:52 am #

    Every “czar” will be required to change his name to Peter.
    He can only hang w/babes names Katherine.
    In deference to today’s functional illiterates, he’ll get to drop the “c”.

  3. Brian Wilson May 20, 2007 at 3:56 am #

    “…contemptuous essay in 2000, “Ten Thousand Czars,…”
    Dammit, Jim – at least he could have plugged “Attention Defcit Democracy” along w/a seven yr old essay!
    We really need to work on marketing techniques.

  4. Original Steve May 20, 2007 at 4:02 am #

    I thought Czars were guys who ended up getting whacked.

  5. Mace Price May 20, 2007 at 8:33 am #

    …I promise y’all that before the laist dawgs hung this here General Lute, The Decider’s new “Iraq Czar” will prove just about as effective in bringing what amounts to the quicksand of US Military Occupation of Iraq to a favorable conclusion; as the former “Drug Czars” have been in bring the Century long “War on Drugs” to the same: Which is to say jest ’bout as effective as a one legged man in a rat stomp.

  6. Jim May 20, 2007 at 9:44 am #

    Steve – did I say anything about what should or should not happen to czars?

    My silence should not be interpreted as a blanket pardon for all czars.

  7. Jim May 20, 2007 at 9:47 am #

    Brian – actually, that article was in part a spinoff from Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State & the Demise of the Citizen (1999).

    Seven or eight years seems to be about the usual lag time, visibility-wise….

  8. Ryan May 20, 2007 at 11:07 am #


    Here’s an anthem for our czars. I suggest we use “A Modern Major General” by Gilbert and Sullivan.


  9. Kevin Carson May 23, 2007 at 10:14 pm #

    Yikes! I guess it really is a Tsarist-Occupied Government.