Is Concern about “Czars” Purely a Partisan Issue?

Quite a few commenters responded to my post about President Obama’s use of high-level appointees not subject to Senate confirmation, colloquially known as “czars,” with some version of the claim that the whole issue is a purely partisan attempt by right-wing Republicans to attack the president. It’s therefore worth pointing out that to their credit, at least two Democratic senators, Robert Byrd and Russell Feingold, expressed concern over the Obama’s use of czars to evade the Senate’s advise and consent power. Of course, Byrd was expressing similar concerns during the Bush Administration, which vastly expanded the use of “czars” exempt from the Senate’s advise and consent role. While many pundits and politicians either switched positions or only criticized one side for using “czars,” Byrd was consistent.

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