Power has been called many things. The ultimate aphrodisiac. An absolute corrupter. A mistress. A violin. But its true nature remains elusive. After all, a head of state wields a very different sort of power than a religious figure. Can one really compare the influence of a journalist to that of a terrorist? And is power unexercised power at all?
In compiling our first ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People we wrestled with these questions — and many more — before deciding to define power in four dimensions.
U.S. President Barack Obama emerged, unanimously, as the world’s most powerful person, and by a wide margin. But there were a number of surprises. Former President George W. Bush didn’t come close to making the final cut, while his predecessor in the Oval Office, Bill Clinton, ranks 31st, ahead of a number of sitting heads of government. Apple’s Steve Jobs easily made the list, while Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie star governor of California (alone, the world’s fifth largest economy) did not.