Republicans have groused for months that Barack Obama has too many “czars,” high-ranking, specialized advisers that, they complain, skirt congressional approval. Now they have a poster boy for their objections, Politico reports: Van Jones. This week an old lecture video surfaced in which he called Republicans “assholes,” as did an old 9/11 Truth petition with his signature. Republicans say there’s no way he would have made it through a Senate confirmation hearing.
Every modern president has had czars. The term is actually media shorthand for the advisers’ real, long-winded titles; Van Jones’ is “Council on Environmental Quality's special adviser for green jobs.” But Obama has an unprecedented number—around 30 by some counts—giving him, in John McCain’s words, “more czars than the Romanovs.” But experts say the czars have little legal power, and generally wind up simply giving advice and relaying White House messages.