Saturday, November 03, 2007

Topping American Politics

The Telegraph's list of Top 100 Most Influential conservatives and liberals in U.S. politics is out, and there is much discontent about the choices. Conservative commenters especially seem outraged at the selection of Rudy Giuliani as the #1 conservative. Michael McKiever sets the tone with "Rudy Guliani a conservative!? Have you lost your mind?" Many others object to Rush Limbaugh being only #5 rather than #1.

Some conservative readers are also incensed at the individuals that were left off the list entirely. For the most part, those complaints make sense. How exactly do you assemble a list of influential conservatives that ignores Michael Reagan, Neal Boortz, Walter Williams, Mark Steyn, Ward Connerly, Hugh Hewitt, David Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy and, most insultingly of all, Phyllis Schlafly? Less persuasively, a few readers argued for the inclusion of everone from Dennis Miller and Ted Nugent to Dr. Laura and Elizabeth Dole.

A few of the ranking choices seem entirely off-base, and, one suspects, motivated entirely by a desire to be provocative and infuriating. Chuck Norris, for example, is ranked #71. While Norris is well known for being one of Hollywood's few outspoken conservatives, that hardly makes him more influential than Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Clarence Thomas, Brent Scowcroft, and Pat Buchanan.

The limiting nature of the liberal/conservative dichotomy also resulted is some very strange results. Drew Carey is the 39th most influential conservative in the country? That makes him, according to the list, a more influential conservative leader than Ed Feulner, Karl Rove, Sean Hannity, Robert Novak or even (most hilariously) Wiliam F. Buckley, Jr. Flattering for Drew, perhaps, but wildly misleading to anyone trying to understand American politics.

They pulled a couple amusing stunts along the way as well. Arnold Schwarzenegger comes up near the top of the liberal list - #8. Joe Lieberman ends up being all things to all people, named as both the 47th most influential liberal - edging out Michelle Obama and Al Franken - but also as the 47th most influential conservative, ranking higher that William Kristol, Brit Hume and George Will.

There were also a few unfortunate typos and mistakes. John Dingell's entry, for example, states that he "was first elected in 1995 and has served longer than any other current congressman." Obviously they meant 1955, not 1995. Overall, though, an entertaining survey of the major figures leading in to the 2008 presidential campaign.


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