The Daily Telegraph has put together a list of The Top 100 most influential conservatives and liberals in the U.S. Their list is very interesting indeed, at times infuriating, and without a doubt an exercise in futility.
Here's my brief synopsis:
On the liberal side, if you hazarded 3 guesses who the #1 most "influential" "liberal" is I'd bet my last food stamp one of your choices would be Bill Clinton (#1). No big surprise there. Where things really get interesting is while browsing down the liberal honor role you encounter the likes of Michael Bloomberg (#25), Colon Powell(#23), and Arnold Schwarzenegger (#8), Republicans all. There are some overrated names included in the top 40. For example, those who have a hard time influencing their bowels to move, let alone a political culture: namely, John Kerry rolled in at #37. And there were some seriously underrated individuals, I think anyone could make a case for Jon Stewart (#81), Howard Dean (#84), and Senator Ted Kennedy (#85) to break the top 25 and easily throw around more political weight than Colin Powell, who couldn't even effect change his own State Department when he was Secretary. What really interests me, though, are the 9 individuals closely associated with the Clinton camp in the top 40 (including Clinton herself (#4) and her husband (#1), and not including #17 Donna Brazile who is definitely in Clinton's speed dial, but uncommitted so far in '08). Clinton's "inevitability" has even gripped the press across the pond.
The conservative list is written with the same luster and inattention to detail as an NKOTB fanzine. VP Cheney (#6) is described as "protecting America by offering unvarnished and sometimes unpalatable advice to George W. Bush," and often uses conservative catchphrases like "partial birth abortion." Surprisingly, Karl Rove (#42) and Bill Kristol (#48) don't break the top 40, and Paul Wolfowitz doesn't make the cut at all. You'll be happy to hear that Larry Craig widely straddles #89. The cherry atop the conservative shit sundae is none other than Rudy "9/11? 9/11!" Giuliani.
So what does it all mean?
Well, I always find it interesting how the liberal/conservative dichotomy plays out in other political cultures, and how they view our own "clash of the titans". The fact that Great Britain, which once had a much more liberal society than the U.S., could consider ANY of our politicians "liberal" notwithstanding an Arnold Schwarzenegger, is interesting in itself. What I find MOST interesting happens to be this list's worthlessness. It does not provide any real insight into the workings of the American political machine and only further divides viewers into politically liberal or conservative. The criteria for more or less influential within their own category is foggy at best and doesn't really shed any light on anything except that politics is, like this list, a popularity contest.
Thanks for nothing, Daily Telegraph.