You have to love the American media and its love of lists. They feel compelled to categorize the top 100 most, least, biggest, most beautiful of just about anything that talks, walks, or crawls -- and they almost always manage to get it completely wrong when doing so. Time Magazine has just published its list of the 100 Most Influential People In The World, and guess who got left out? Just the leader of the Free World, that's all (via Mac at Heading Right):
Heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio and envelope-pushers Rosie O'Donnell and Sacha Baron Cohen are among the entertainment newsmakers on Time magazine's list of 100 people who shape the world.
The list of 100 most influential, on newsstands Friday, also includes Queen Elizabeth II, presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, director Martin Scorsese and model Kate Moss. It does not include President Bush.
Let's see if we can make sense of this. Two Senators who want to win a nomination for the next presidential election are more influential than the man who currently holds the position? I'm not saying that Hillary and Obama do not have influence -- after all, they are the frontrunners for the Democrats. However, arguing that they have more influence than George Bush is simply unrealistic, and it betrays the bias of Time in its attempt to sell their list. Bush just demonstrated that he has equal influence as the entirety of Congress in vetoing the supplemental bill.
Love him, hate him, or feel indifferent, but one cannot deny that the President of the United States has a great deal of influence. This one in particular has toppled two brutal dictatorships and currently runs a controversial war in Iraq. He has worked with four other nations to isolate North Korea and pushed the UN Security Council to isolate Iran. Bush has, for better or worse, negotiated free-trade agreements with most of the rest of the world during his six years in office, and has even begun to attract nations like Canada to his policy on greenhouse gases.
So who does Time consider more influential than that? Queen Elizabeth II. That's right, the figurehead monarch that has no political power at all, and whose family forms the basis of a sneering wing of the global media, has more influence than the President. Why? Apparently, according to Catherine Mayer, because she's cut back on family expenses.
Who else? The Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria. Don't know his name? Perhaps that's a measure of his influence.
What about Condoleezza Rice? I agree that she is tremendously influential, but more so than the man who sets the policy she implements? Don't get me wrong -- I believe she should be on the list, but there is a logical error that Time's editors seem to have missed. Rice is the envoy of Bush's policy, and as such she acts as a proxy for Bush, just as any Secretary of State does for any President. Reagan knew the difference, as his sharp-tongued diary entry regarding Alexander Haig proved.
Any list from Time would not be complete without a sop to a Communist, and Time helpfully provides Raul Castro. Not Fidel, but his younger brother and chief toady, a man so uninteresting that he went weeks without a public appearance following Fidel's illness and the media barely noticed it.
All of these people, Time would have you believe, have more influence than a sitting President of the US during a time of war. Maybe Time wanted to dent Bush's credibility, but they torpedoed their own instead.
CORRECTION: Six years in office, not six terms. No, that's not wishful thinking either; eight years is enough for anyone, including Ronald Reagan. Thanks to CQ commenter Faith1.