Andrew H. Card, Jr., the White House chief of staff, participated in an online chat Wednesday night with Internet users. The White House referred to him as "Secretary Card." Why the fancy title if Card has no department or agency to run?
The question is confusing because Card is in fact a member of George W. Bush's Cabinet—or, more precisely, he's a "Cabinet-rank member," which means he isn't a secretary but does get to attend Cabinet meetings. The other Cabinet-rank members are Dick Cheney, Mitch Daniels, John Walters, Christine Todd Whitman, and Robert Zoellick.
But that's not where he gets his title. According to his official bio, Card was secretary of Transportation from 1992-1993, under George H.W. Bush. So, "Secretary Card" is actually a former secretary, not a current one.
As Explainer has pointed out before, the title of "secretary" is commonly dropped after one leaves office; the normal post-Cabinet appellation is the "Honorable" Andrew Card.
Bonus Explainer: What does the White House chief of staff do? Essentially, Card is in charge of organizing Bush's life: coordinating his schedule, running the White House, organizing meetings, and working on policy issues. The chief of staff is also considered to be a close adviser to the president and a grand-vizierlike figure with the power to influence who gets to bend the president's ear.
Thanks to reader "Louis" for asking the question.