By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
President Obama has appointed yet another czar—you know, one of those people in his administration with a long title, huge portfolio and no budget to get anything done. This time, it's a worthy enough portfolio assigned to Lynn Rosenthal—fighting domestic violence. But it's a czar-like post of such little consequence, the public announcement was handled by Vice President Joe Biden, not President Obama. From ABC News:
Vice President Biden announced today that Lynn Rosenthal will be the White House adviser on Violence Against Women, a new position created to work with the president and vice president on domestic violence and sexual assault issues...Rosenthal most recently served as the executive director of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence and has focused on domestic violence issues like housing, state and local coordinated community response, federal policy, and survivor-centered advocacy.
Let's hope Ms. Rosenthal produces something of actual value in an area where improvement is called for. According to Vice President Biden, there are 48 million reported cases of domestic abuse each year, and more cases go unreported than are reported. Meanwhile, the list of Czars keeps growing, according to Reuters:
There's a drug czar, a U.S. border czar, an urban czar, a regulatory czar, a stimulus accountability czar, an Iran czar, a Middle East czar, and a czar for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, which in Washington-speak has been lumped together into a policy area called Af-Pak.
There are upward of 20 such top officials, all with lengthy official titles but known in the media as czars, and next week there will be one more, when Obama appoints a czar for cyber-security who will be charged with improving the security of computer networks.
And that list of 20 came out before the following appointment was made earlier this month:
President Barack Obama recently introduced Kenneth Feinberg as America's "compensation czar." He'll oversee executive pay at firms that have taken federal bailout money. Feinberg "will have broad discretion to set the salaries and bonuses for their five most senior executives and their 20 most highly paid employees," The New York Times reported.
Perhaps President Obama and Vice President Biden will start announcing these appointments only after the latest Czar or Czarina has produced something of consequence. Otherwise, it all seems an exercise in favor-currying with too many constituencies to hold true meaning.
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