Wow. I don't know what Barack Obama has done to make the Washington Post so angry at him, but I can't imagine the paper would trot out a Nixon analogy lightly:
Presidents have long strived to centralize influence in the White House, often to the frustration of their Cabinet secretaries. But not since Richard M. Nixon tried to abolish the majority of his Cabinet has a president gone so far in attempting to build a West Wing-based clutch of advisers with a mandate to cut through -- or leapfrog -- the traditional bureaucracy.
Obama's emerging "super-Cabinet" is intended to ensure that his domestic priorities -- health reform, the environment and urban affairs -- don't get mired in agency red tape or brushed aside by the ongoing economic meltdown and international crises. Half a dozen new White House positions have been filled by well-known leaders with experience navigating Washington turf wars.
But some see the potential for chaos within the administration.
"We're going to have so many czars," said Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It's going to be a lot of fun, seeing the czars and the regulators and the czars and the Cabinet secretaries debate."
I guess we can let Pelosi, Waxman, Conyers, and the rest know that they ought to have their outrage at the ready. It seems that a whole host of important policies are about to be coordinated from the bowels of the West Wing, by shadowy staffers who never face confirmation hearings. It will be as if Karl Rove and Dick Cheney never left. Let the denunciations begin.
Or perhaps Congress will suddenly decide that a president needs to be able to exchange ideas with his advisers secure in the knowledge that his every thought won't later be subject to Congressional subpoena?
In any case, it seems that Barack Obama is content to have ciphers or relative non-entities preside over a number of federal departments, while unconfirmed 'czars' will set key policies. For example, 'Climate Czar' Carol Browner will coordinate policy on drilling, cap and trade, nuclear power, Kyoto, etc., while Congress invites Stephen Chu and Lisa Jackson to testify (bonus points if you can name the agencies they will head). Counterterror 'Czar' John Brennan seems set to decide how we go after Al Qaeda, while Congress hears from veteran bureaucratic manager Leon Panetta. Eventually we will learn how much power will be entrusted to the 'Car Czar' -- whoever he or she may be -- but it will likely be Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner who appears before Congress.
Here's the kicker. Obama's team acknowledges that power will be concentrated in the hands of a few decision makers close to the President, instead of the Cabinet. And do you know why?
"Given the enormity of the challenges we face, it is critical to have someone in the White House every day, reporting to the president, coordinating policy and giving these issues the important focus they deserve," said Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "It allows for efficient, streamlined decision-making."
We're all used to the Left's claims that George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Rudy Giuliani do nothing but parrot the like '9/11' to justify every policy change. Get ready to hear the Obama team endlessly and mindlessly point to 'the Financial Crisis.'