Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

POWERFUL WOMEN....I don't really have any trenchant commentary to add to this, but I thought I'd post the top 20 entries from Forbes' latest list of the most powerful women in the world. Condi Rice has been demoted to #2 after a two-year reign at the top, and Oprah Winfrey continues to be more important than both the president of Chile and the prime minister of New Zealand. Katie Couric comes in at a dismal #54. Americans make up the vast majority of the top 20, but other countries get a bit more recognition as you go further down the list. Queen Elizabeth's occupation, perplexingly, is listed as NA. She's a queen, isn't she?


Kevin Drum 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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Where's Ann Coulter?!?

Posted by: Wingnut on September 1, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

How, exactly, does one gauge the relative power of the PM of New Zealand versus the Executive Vice President of Hewlett-Packard?

Posted by: Drew Steen on September 1, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

How does Forbes define power? Ms. Rice has relatively little compared to Mr. Cheney and I would argue that Aung Sung Suu Chi is a hell of a lot more influential than some annoyance that sells crap, be it sugar water or banking services.

Cheers,

Alan Tomlinson

Posted by: Alan Tomlinson on September 1, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Liz is a Queen, yes, but everybody else on the list can be fired I think.

Posted by: nyclept on September 1, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting how Melinda Gates ranks 5 steps higher than Hillary Clinton. Not bad for someone whos last paid job was a marketing manager.

Posted by: Alan on September 1, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Angela Merkel may think she's hot stuff, but that chick'll take Smirky's shoulder rub and like it!

Have had a couple of conversations with Brenda Barnes in a professional capacity and found her unbelievably unpretentious, humble and genuinely interested in other people--not very common traits among CEOs. Not suggesting that's because she's a woman. I don't know why it is. But I liked her a lot, even if I don't drink Pepsi or eat Sara Lee cake.

Posted by: shortstop on September 1, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Why are so many American corporate heads above so many heads of state? Sonia Gandhi is in charge of electioneering for one of the world's largest political parties in a land of 1 billion people? How is she below the CEO of Sara Lee?

Posted by: Reality Man on September 1, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

NYCLEPT hit the nail on the head. Queen is a heriditary title, not an occupation.

Posted by: S on September 1, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Where's Phyllis Schlafly? Michelle Malkin?!?! Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS!?!? Damn liberal bias!

Posted by: Wingnut on September 1, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Al nails it!

We can't have strong women -- God wants women to be subserviant. Otherwise, they just kill babies!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on September 1, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

>"How, exactly, does one gauge the relative power of the PM of New Zealand versus the Executive Vice President of Hewlett-Packard?"

My sentiments exactly... how does the President of Chile has less whoopie than the president of a drug store chain?

How many tank battalions does Rite-Aid have?

Posted by: Buford on September 1, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm perplexed by the job listing for Melinda Gates. Shouldn't it read "Sleeping with Bill Gates" as her official title?

Posted by: Birkel on September 1, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

no comprendo... Why would a chairman of some US company of maybe 100.000 employees be more powerful than the president of INDIA??? I billion people and all.

Or by power do they mean, power in America?

Posted by: ooch on September 1, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Alan Tomlinson, of course you are right. Aung Sung Suu Ki's vast influence has made Burma the garden spot of Asia, and a tiger amongst its economies. Such a greater reach than merely directing billions in investments and hundreds of thousands of productive employees spanning the globe, like those piffling CEOs.

Posted by: Digsley on September 1, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

This post sent all the trolls running to hide under their beds!

Posted by: R.L. on September 1, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Hilary beat Laura! Hehe!

Posted by: C on September 1, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, sure, R.L.

We're all scared of a poll that shows a black Republican Secretary of State as the #2 most powerful woman in the world. Frightening!

/sarcasm

Posted by: Birkel on September 1, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I've slept with everyone in the top 20! No wonder I'm so tired...

Posted by: craigie on September 1, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

No scarlett johansson!

Posted by: apeman on September 1, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK
Queen Elizabeth's occupation, perplexingly, is listed as NA. She's a queen, isn't she?

An occupation is a position in which one does labor to earn income, which is beneath the dignity of the nobility and likewise, a fortiori, beneath the dignity of royalty. Queen Elizabeth doesn't work for any person or institution, she is anointed by God as sovereign over the British people.

At least, that's the theory.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 1, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

IMHO out of all the U.S. women only Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton deserve to be on the list. Sonia Gandhi would be in the top 4.

Does FORBES have a clue?

Posted by: ppk on September 1, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Rice doesn't deserve to be on the list, because she's a total lackey. No matter how inherently powerful your position, you're powerless if someone actually tells you what to do with that power.

Markel would also top the "world's goofiest politicians" list.

I haven't seen any evidence that Clinton has much power at all. She's apparently on the list because she's the world's most famous female politician. She doesn't demonstrate the kind of exercise of power within her party, or the Senate, that one might expect from a powerful leader.

Of course she's heir apparent to the Democratic Presidential nomination, but that isn't power until she's elected. Which, for better or worse, will never happen.

Posted by: KAZ on September 1, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK
Why are so many American corporate heads above so many heads of state?

Because so many American corporations have more global influence than many (even fairly important) countries, even if it doesn't have any area where it as intense as the domestic power of a national government.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 1, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Where's Ann Coulter?!?

This list is of FEMALES.

They don't call it ADAM'S Apple for nothing.

Posted by: Robert on September 1, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Queen Elizabeth's occupation, perplexingly, is listed as NA. She's a queen, isn't she?

Hmmm, would you consider the occupation of Sir [whoever] to be "Sir"?

Posted by: Al on September 1, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

"What do you mean Oprah won't have me as a guest? I'm the Prime Minister of New Zealand! No, that's--New, Z-E-A..."

Posted by: Tom Hilton on September 1, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Very misleading title. I had an entirely different concept of 'powerful' women. Dang.

(M. Gates is 'funder' of the 'found', or 'flounder' of the 'fund', or 'finder' of... whatever.)

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 1, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Rice's only career competency was in the provost area.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on September 1, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

What about She-Ra, Princess of Power??

If nothing else, the list is an eye-opener for anyone who's unaware of how many women are in charge of large corporations.

I wonder how they were ordered, though. Possibly by the sales or revenue of each company, factored with the executive's relative sway within the company.

Posted by: Grumpy on September 1, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Markel would also top the "world's goofiest politicians" list

Hey, if you're going to dis the woman, at least spell her name right.

The world's goofiest politician is currently living in the White House.

Posted by: SED on September 1, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary more powerful than Nancy Pelosi? Why, because she's more famous?

Posted by: ckelly on September 1, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

forbes also did a list of American' drunkest cities. the top 10 are as follows.

1. Milwaukee
2. Minneapolis
3. Columbus
4. Boston
5. Austin
6. Chicago
7. Cleveland
8. Pittsburgh
9(tie) Philly
9 Providence

Posted by: drunk guy from Philly on September 1, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

What I find interested is that only three of the top ten (admittedly the first three) and seven of the top twenty are people in government. What does it tell you about the balance of power between the public and private sectors when the CEO's of Pepsi, Xerox, ADM, Sara Lee, and Kraft Foods are all ranked higher than the heads of state of medium-size countries such as Chile and New Zealand?

Posted by: mfw13 on September 1, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Liz is a Queen, yes, but everybody else on the list can be fired I think.

She can be beheaded.

Posted by: Disputo on September 1, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Forget complaining why Rice is on the list... wtf is Laura Bush on the list?

Posted by: Disputo on September 1, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary more powerful than Nancy Pelosi? Why, because she's more famous?

That, and because she arguably has a greater economic impact (eg, if you allocated HRC all of NY State, but give Pelosi only her congressional district).

Here's what Forbes says about their power ranking function:

is based on a power ranking that is the composite of visibility (measured by press citations) and economic impact. The later, in turn, reflects three things: rsum (a prime minister is more powerful than a senator); the size of the economic sphere over which a leader holds sway; and a multiplier that aims to make different financial yardsticks comparable.
Posted by: Disputo on September 1, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK
She can be beheaded.

Everyone can be killed; someone with an occupation might lose it involuntarily while alive.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 1, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

It's GOOD that the balance of power is toward the private sector. What a horrifying thought, for people like Rice and Clinton to have MORE power than they already do. Remember, government's power is, by definition, coercive against you, while private companies need to get you to WANT to buy their stuff.

Posted by: KAZ on September 1, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I said: She can be beheaded.

cmd replied: Everyone can be killed; someone with an occupation might lose it involuntarily while alive.

That was a snarky way of saying that she can be deposed, but I expect you knew that.

Posted by: Disputo on September 1, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Remember, government's power is, by definition, coercive against you, while private companies need to get you to WANT to buy their stuff.

Actually, by definition government power (in the US at least) derives from the consent of the governed. You don't like the way you are being governed? Stop consenting.

The major difference between private corporate bodies and public corporate bodies is that with the former the owners and customers are different groups, whereas with the latter the owners and customers are coincident. All else flows from that distinction.

Posted by: Disputo on September 1, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm gratified that they only put one entertainer on the list.

Posted by: Shelby on September 1, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'm gratified that they only put one entertainer on the list.

I count three: Winfrey, Couric, and Meredith Vieira.

At least Winfrey runs her own corp.

There are many more if you expand the def to include the entertainment industry.

Posted by: Disputo on September 1, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, would you consider the occupation of Sir [whoever] to be "Sir"?

This is not an appropriate comparison. This might be an appropriate comparison if the woman in question were a queen consort, as Queen Sofia of Spain or Queen Silvia of Sweden. But Elizabeth II is the head of state of the United Kingdom and numerous other countries, a role encapsulated by her title of Queen. I agree that this might not be an occupation, but it's certainly not equivalent to a pure honorific like "Sir John" or "Duke of Gloucester". The Duke of Gloucester's occupation is not "Duke", but "Queen" might be an occupation.

Posted by: John on September 1, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Queen doesn't come with a paycheck anymore, does it?

It's just the constant demotion of homemakers and work-at home mothers!

Posted by: Crissa on September 1, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Angelina Jolie.

Now THERE'S a powerful woman.

She'd kick any of their asses before breakfast.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 1, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

How many tank battalions does Rite-Aid have?

Well, if they're savvy and generous with their political contributions, they can have the full backing of the United States Military. Lord knows it's worked for Anaconda Copper, United Fruit, and Exxon.

Posted by: CornCrib on September 1, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

It's bull.

Much to financially centered. Forbes is a business magazine and that shows through in their rankings. -

if we follow that route the Netherlands and Russia would both be equally powerful as they both have a equally large economy.

Posted by: Ernst on September 1, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

For those deriding Melinda Gates, Bill was best known around Seattle for being a co-founder of Microsoft and getting speeding tickets prior to his marriage to Melinda. Their great philantrophic foundation might never have happened without Melinda's guidance. She became the guiding force behind the foundation.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 1, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Sonia Gandhi was number 2 or 3 in Fobbes list last year. Maybe Merkel, Condi and Wu Yi should be ahead of her, but she should definitely be number 4, since she has the real power in India. A CEO simply cannot compare in power to that.

Posted by: erg on September 1, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK


Because so many American corporations have more global influence than many (even fairly important) countries,

Indra Nooyi can start a nuclear war with Pakistan or China ?

Even the biggest American corporations cannot compare in influence to the head or near head of a huge country like India or China or the head of an industrialized country like Germany.

Posted by: erg on September 1, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

power to Forbes apparently mostly equates to high income rather then having dominion over multitudes. Interstingly, condi-lie-zza doesn't rank in wealth or power and is a world-wide joke for her idiot statements and her nothing but blowing jr. in lieu of leadership [cough]. Under the condi-lie-zza criteria, karen huge should be at the top of the list.

Posted by: yowzer on September 1, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Katie Couric comes in at a dismal #54."

Dismal? Number 54 out of all the women in the whole, wide world is dismal?

Heck, I'd be hard pressed to rank myself #54 in any group outside of a junior high school.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 1, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Condoleezza Rice is in the top twenty due to the fact that nobody in the Bush Administration pays any attention to here. They just hang her out to dry, e.g., Lebanon.

So, my assessment of her is about the same as hers was for Martin Luther King: not impressed.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on September 1, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

>if we follow that route the Netherlands and Russia would both be equally powerful as they both have a equally large economy.

hardly, in economic terms Russia's energy assets are worth easily 100 times the gdp of the Netherlands.

In fact there are probably 200 women with more power than the Prime Minister of New Zealand. There are counties in the US with bigger budgets and more influence.

Posted by: Kyle on September 1, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised JK Rowling didn't make the list...

Posted by: Lis Riba on September 1, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

There are two counties with greater population of New Zealand.Los Angeles County, California with 9,937,739 (2005 census) and Cook County, Illinois at 5,327,777. In all cases the counties powers are limited to providing services to its constituents. They are irrelevant on the world stage.

Posted by: GregR on September 1, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, in Cook Co we are mustering troops to invade Dupage to disarm them of their WMDs.

Posted by: Disputo on September 2, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

Disputo

Dupage don't have no stinkin' WMD's. Gave 'em all to some Saddam guy years ago.

Posted by: tomeck on September 2, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: dsfsd on September 2, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Sonia Gandhi is definately more powerful than any CEO. She should be #1 on the list.

It is absurd to equate the power of a head of a sovereign government or a ruling political party with the power of a CEO. In spite of the increasing "power" that multinational corporations wield, they only weild this power because governments allow them to. Sonia Gandhi could destroy Indra Nooyi in a second if she slapped some tariffs on Pepsi products in India (or even banned soft drinks altogether, as some Indian Health officials have suggested). What can Indra Nooyi do to Sonia Gandhi? Nothing.

And is Condoleezza Rice really "powerful"? I fail to see much evidence of this. What has been her real influence in the Bush administration? And where's Karen Hughes?

What about Yulia Tymoshenko? She must be there somewhere.

Posted by: kokblok on September 3, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: 联通铃声下载 on September 3, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Queen doesn't come with a paycheck anymore, does it?

Well, sorta, if you count the Civil List. The Times (of London) rich list generally gives her occupation as 'head of state'.

Anyway, Sgo Royal may be up there soon.

Posted by: ahem on September 4, 2006 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Kyle you're mixing benchmarks. In economic terms The dutch energy assets top the GDP of Russia a couple of times as well. The reason why russia is more powerfull is not because of it's economy but because it's just as autonomous but got 10x the people and 500x more the land. O and an a couple of thousand more nukes.

Money is a very bad measuring stick for power. As is people without taking into account what kind of influance you have over those people. as soon as US counties can declare war upon
New zealand you've got a point, but not before.

Posted by: Ernst on September 4, 2006 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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