Ten Most Influential Conservatives
The British newspaper The Daily Telegraph released a list of the 100 most influential conservatives and liberals. Inevitably, the list was controversial. Bill O-Reilly was rated only 84th, Mark Levin was more influential than Sean Hannity, and Rudy Giuliani took first place, but that is to be expected. It is impossible to make list that everybody agrees with, or even likes. However, I decided to make my own list (only of the top ten), and see what people think.
1. Rush Limbaugh.
The Daily Telegraph ranked him fifth, but I think he is more influential than that. He is basically the spokesman for conservatism, and reaches more people than any other media figure, left or right.
2. George Bush
He is a lame duck, but he still has a great deal of influence. In these last fifteen months of his Presidency, he will shape the world that will be left for his successor. He will choose our policy towards Iran and Iraq, and possibly could nominate another Supreme Court Justice.
3. John Roberts
The face of the Supreme Court is changing. When Bush took office, it was 6-3, in favor of the liberals. Now it is 5-4. The Supreme Court has the chance to reverse decades of liberal precedent in the coming years. Roberts (and Samuel Alito) will play a large part.
4. Rudy Giuliani
Giuliani doesn't really have much influence now- he has a fairly slim lead in a wide open Republican race. However, if he is nominated, he will perhaps permanently alienate the GOP from fervent social conservatives and pro-gun people. If not, then any pro-abortion, anti-gun politition will almost automatically be excluded from a chance at winning the GOP nomination.
5. David Petraeus
Petraeus will determine if we win in Iraq. I think that pretty much establishes his influence right there.
. Sean Hannity
I'm not sure how intellectually influential Hannity is, given that he basically recites Republican talking points. I mean, I can accept partiality towards Republicans, but Hannity almost never questions anything the GOP does. He never actually criticizes the various Republican candidates for any liberal views they have- and I don't just mean Giuliani. Romney, Thompson, and Huckabee have had liberal moments too. However, he does have a huge audience, meaning that Republican politicians rarely get a better place to air their views to large numbers of people (without, of course, any hard questions asked by Hannity).
7. Matt Drudge
Drudge's influence, in my opinion, is a little overstated. His site is popular, but isn't in the top five news sites. However, he does break a great deal of news, and is also read internationally. He welds a great deal of influence among online newspapers, who get massive amounts of traffic when he links to one of their stories. In addition, merely being linked to by Drudge can send a story to the top of the news cycle, which gives him the power to emphasize otherwise ignored stories.
8. Robert Gates
Gates's defense policies win help determine if we win in Iraq, and also will determine our Iran strategy.
9. Mark Levin
Michael Savage is really no longer part of the "big three" of talk radio. He has distanced himself much too far away from mainstream conservatism to be respected. However, Mark Levin is quickly beginning to take his place. He combines Savage's ability to rant with views that actually make sense.
10. The conservative blogosphere
I don't want to go the Time magazine route (as when they named everyone Person of the Year), but there really isn't one single blogger with a great deal of influence. It's more a group effort. Besides which, I am a small part of the blogosphere, so I get to have a very small place on this list.