Hillary Clinton put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling and then successfully took on the Herculean task of remaking America's world image in the wake of Bush Inc. Apparently, that's just not maverick-y enough for Time.
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, Tweets about "Hockey Dads" and policy in 140 characters or less (we'll refrain from commenting on how it might not actually be a good thing to reduce the policies of the United States to a text message), posts ghost-written rants on her Facebook wall, goes on fake-bus tours to promote her un-fact-checked memoir and appears for $100,000+ speaking fees to reliably conservative groups to make fun of journalists, read off her hand and spout a bunch of catch-phrases. For that, and the fan-boy and -girl raves of her followers, she's considered one of Time's "100 Most Influential People of 2010" — and a "leader" at that, with multiple heads of state, military commanders, the first female Speaker of the House and the CEOs of major corporations. Can I get a "What the motherfuck?", people?
I mean, the woman has disapproval ratings of 55 percent among all U.S. adults and only 17 percent of people have strongly favorable views of her. While the disapproval ratings are lower than Congress', the favorables aren't much higher, either. By comparison, Hillary Clinton's approval ratings last December were fully 75 percent.
Plus what, exactly, is Sarah Palin leading, other than fools around by the nose and HarperCollins' book sales figures? She's not leading Alaska anymore, she's not leading the Tea Party movement (given that it's a headless hydra), she's not leading 2012 Presidential polls and she's certainly not leading anything but a small minority of Americans who, like Ted Nugent, praise her carefully-crafted "authenticity" the same way they praised Bush's. I guess we can be thankful Time didn't stick her in the Thinker category, but all the same, Palin's hardly a leader or an innovator.
Clinton, on the other hand, is leading this country's foreign policy. She's logged 127 days abroad in the 15 months since her confirmation in 54 different countries. She oversaw the appointment of the first-ever United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues. She's been visible on everything from Haiti reconstruction to denuclearization to climate change to Israeli peace negotiations to putting pressure on Pakistan to remapping our relationship with Russia to wresting control of U.S. policy towards China away from the economists and financiers at the Treasury Department, and she shows no sign of stopping. Is anyone still talking about Bill Clinton's potential influence at State? Nope, because no one really believes that he has any. Anyone still talking about her as the top of the team of rivals? Nope, although there are rumors about her replacing Biden as VP candidate in the 2012 race. Anyone still calling her shrill, or a bitch, or speculating that she only got elected on the basis of her husband's infidelity rather than her own hard work and skills? You bet your ass they aren't. Hillary Clinton is leading the fucking State Department, she's leading this country's foreign policy and she's leading the charge to replace the image of America as a bunch of stupid cowboys with one of a thoughtful nation committed to the ideals of democracy and freedom we constantly profess.
So, why the hell is Palin on this list and not Clinton? It is, put frankly, the difference between the popular girl and the girl who ran the high school volunteer program. Sarah Palin's the popular girl — there are people that adore her, people that want to be like her and people that hang on her every word because of some ephemeral quality (looks, money, ability to be cutting to those she doesn't like, all of the above) that makes her popular in a certain crowd for a certain period of time. Clinton's the volunteer leader — it's an often thankless job, with students who join just to pad their resumés and the kind of work that inevitably exposes you at an early age to life's sadnesses. Yeah, we call the popular girl "popular," but outside of a certain fashion or the ability to determine other people's "coolness," she's never actually that influential with most of the people in the high school. And when it's time for the school awards and scholarships, she's not the girl who wins: it's the girl who ran the volunteer programs to help the homeless, assist the elderly, work with the disabled and care for the abused and abandoned animals. And we all know who among those girls in high school did anything that actually changed even a small piece of the world, and who deserved the real accolades — and it wasn't the proto-Palins.
So, maybe Time should stop calling their list a list of "influential leaders" and just cop to the fact that it's a way to get the popular kids to like them back. Of course, if they did so, Time assistant managing editor Radhika Jones probably wouldn't get her picture with the most popular girl in school to put in the yearbook.
Related: Sarah Palin And The Tea Party Movement [Washington Post]
Poll: Clinton Approval Soars [Politico]
Travels With The Secretary [State.gov]
Obama Could Dump Biden for Clinton as VP in 2012 [U.S. News & World Report]
Earlier: "Time 100" Names 31 Powerful Women