Friday, May 4, 2007

Influential People

Influence: the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others

Time Magazine publishes an annual list of the top influential people in the world. It's a fascinating exercise simply because of the total and complete ambiguity editors use in defining "influential." I would venture to argue that Grady Sizemore is a very influential Cleveland Indian (in fact winning the game last night with an RBI double) yet he did not make the list.

Other individuals like the chap who jumped in front of a subway train to save another man's life did make Time's 100. I don't know that that incident makes him influential in any sphere of life except for the man's whom he saved, hence the ambiguous "influence."

The big news on the list is not so much who is on it, but who isn't. The magazine neglected George W. Bush. The President of the United States missed the cut. Whether you like him, hate him, or are apathetic towards him, there is absolutely no one who is more influential in the world today. No one. Not even Sacha Baron Cohen.

Yes, Borat made the list. Tina Fey is there too. Heck, John Mayer made the list. But not the President.

Tony Dungy (but not Petyon Manning) made the list. Roger Federer - tennis player - is present.

Freaking Chien-Ming Wang is one of Time Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential People. Yes, New York Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang is more influential than George W. Bush.

This is an asinine comparison, which is doing what is suppose to do that being to generate debate (and have incredibly influential bloggers such as myself give the magazine some additional publicity). Never mind the most powerful man in the only superpower country didn't make the list, we have to make room for a Yankees pitcher who is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA. Look, if they were serious about including international sports stars, Daisuke Matsuzaka or Yao Ming should get billing here. But neither should be on the list at the expense of the man who has the power to wage or end a war.

The argument made for leaving Bush off the list is that he's a lame duck who is alienating everyone with his rouge leadership style. Ok, fine whatever. Why don't you talk to Congress about how influential he is being that he just vetoed a bill passed by both the House and Senate to set a timetable to bring home troops from Iraq? I'm not going to get into the bill's merits one way or the other, but that a single individual killed it with a single vote makes him pretty influential to me.

The list doesn't exclude politicians. Rather it includes Hilliary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and even Raul Castro in its ranks. Frankly, I'm fine with two of the three, and Raul will make it as soon as Fidel Castro is no longer really in charge so that's ok by me too. But don't you think that Clinton who wants to be President and Rice who reports to the President should probably not be ahead of Bush?

So I went over to the Time Magazine website to find a link for this story after I saw it on CNN this morning, and I found that Time had also conducted an Internet poll to see who you (the person of the year last year...Time is slipping mightily) thought should be on the list. I thought well maybe the public will get this right, even though when I viewed the story on CNN, the public was weighing in with an asinine 61% "yes, Bush should have been left off the list."

I opened the page and the person receiving the most votes for the most influential person was Rain - a Koren R&B star I had never heard of until this list. Needless to say, I didn't bother scouring the list for Bush because the public is incapable of measuring influence.


Edwin said...

I'm not as smart as, well, anyone who reads this, really- but I thought that only congress had power to wage war. Not that that seems to matter to anyone in the White House, but still.

lonewolf said...


You bring up fantastic questions that I myself had to research to get you a good answer. Now, it's not Wikipedia, which as we all know is the best possible, most accurate source since anyone can add to it, but this link offers some insight.

For those not willing to cut and paste, the most insightful lines:

"The president of the United States has no clear constitutional authority to declare war without congressional approval. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the president, as commander-in-chief of the military, does have the authority to recognize a "state of war" initiated against the United States and may in these circumstances unilaterally send U.S. troops into battle. President Bush has also stated that his powers as commander-in-chief allow him to act independently in defense of the nation.

The president did not seek a formal declaration of war from Congress. But he did seek congressional support, he said, to demonstrate to the United Nations and to the world that military action against Iraq was not just his own objective; it was a view supported by the American electorate as a whole. Strategically, support from the legislators bolstered the president's case as he pressed the UN Security Council for a resolution authorizing military force in Iraq."

JR said...

You are just asking for a "Wang is better than Bush" comment, and this is a family blog.