I would like to apologize to all of America. I failed. I was derelict in my duty last December. Belated is better than never, unless the issue is tax hikes.
Last year I introduced the concept of the world being run by Powerful Bald White Guys, forever known here as PBWGs. I explained that to understand this group of people, watch the various television versions of “Law and Order.” PBWGs bark orders, and more importantly, look authoritative. PBWGs run the world.
I brought about the column forever known as the “Top 10 PBWGs of 2009.”
Yet in doing my end of the year wrapup, I forgot to take into account that the topic deserved to have an end of the decade wrapup as well. Had I been a blogger during the millennium, I would have come up with the Top 10 PBWGs of the millennium, or at least the century. Winston Churchill certainly would have been on the list.
So before taking time tomorrow to bring the Top 10 PBWGs of 2010, I will right my grievous wrong.
For those complaining that this list is top (not follically) with Republicans, it is because Republicans controlled the White House during the decade. Had this list been done in the 1990s, more Democrats would have been mentioned, including James Carville. 2011 will certainly put Jerry Brown on the list.
Eliot Spitzer just missed the list by one hooker. In the great movie Izzy and Moe that reunited Jackie Gleason and Art Carney from the Honeymooners, their boss yelled at them, “The New York D.A. is not above the law. The New York D.A. is the law!” Yet that D.A. was just running illegal booze during prohibition. Spitzer was drunk on power. Plus, any guy keeping his socks on during sex is off the list.
Sean Connery gets a lifetime PBWG award because he is Sean Connery.
I am sure I have left people out, but that is what makes America great.
I am a year late, but justice must be done.
Today I present the Top 10 PBWGs of the Decade.
10) Jeffrey Katzenberg/David Geffen/Jeff Zucker/Paul Shaffer
While most media types by definition are worthless, enough people think they matter. That means they matter. Katzenberg used to be a Disney guy while Geffen was a music man. With movie guy Stephen Spielberg, they formed a new company. I am not sure what they actually “do,” but that makes them even more powerful. Jeff Zucker helped drive NBC into the ground, but he is still there. When one can fail at a job and remain, one has power.
As for David Letterman’s sidekick Paul Shaffer, he gets an honorable mention just for being one of the writers of the song “It’s Raining Men.” He is loved and hated for this.
9) Bernie Kerik–He was a big deal as the top cop in New York, and 9/11 only elevated his stature. He showed leadership at one of the most trying times in America’s history. The current decade has been cruel to him thanks to a hyper-partisan witch hunt. He will bounce back. Rumors had him romantically involved with Judith Regan. If that is true, this is a reminder of why men want power to begin with.
8.) John Roberts–He is one of the finest legal minds on Earth. His bald spot might be too minimal to make this list, but his Judicial minimalism and restraint deserves him kudos for life, which thankfully is how long he will be on the bench. May that life be long.
7) Steve Ballmer/Barry Diller/Jack Welch
Unlike the entertainment executives listed above, these men ran companies that are about necessity and not luxury. People associate Diller with USA Network, but he did much more. No man is indispensable, but Jack Welch at General Electric came close. The company has gone far South since his successor took over. As for Steve Ballmer, he runs Microsoft so smoothly that Bill Gates is semi-retired. These men brought good things to life, although the jokes about GE lightbulbs burning out had some truth to them.
6) Hank Paulson–A devastating financial crisis could only be solved by a man from the company that runs our government, Goldman Sachs. Picture him as Jon Corzine except without the sinister looking felon goatee and with competence. He is also the most influential behind the scenes PBWG named Hank since “Hey Now” Hank Kinglsey kept Garry Shandling in line in the form of Jeffrey Tambor.
5) Karl Rove–His “micro-targeting” political strategy was vital to getting President George W. Bush reelected. He reveled in his notoriety but remained fiercely loyal to the boss. He is one of the great political strategists of all time.
4) Rupert Murdoch–For Americans disgusted with liberal bias in the news, Murdoch allowed conservative viewpoints to be expressed. He gave us Roger Ailes, who brought us O’Reilly, Hannity, and Beck. The left is jealous because Fox News has higher ratings than all the other cable news networks combined. In a conservative country, this is expected. Murdoch found a void, and ably filled it. His hard news division is respected by all but the most blind of leftist partisans.
3) Rudy Giuliani–He was a great Mayor in peace time. He became America’s Mayor after 9/11. He is the epitome of a leader. He turned New York into a world class city again in the 1990s, while steering the city through unimaginable tragedies in the 2000s. He is a true hero.
2) Alan Greenspan–Ben Bernanke has big shoes to fill. Greenspan may have been the only man who could be so completely boring and yet fascinate people at the same time. He was impossible to disagree with because nobody truly understood exactly what he was saying. The phrase “irrational exuberance” is now part of financial lore. In 1987 he saved the entire country from a financial breakdown. In 2008, Bernanke and every other bigwig was privately consulting with him.
1) Dick Cheney–Before him, the job of Vice President was seen as fit for a bumbling fool with the responsibility of not screwing up and embarrassing the boss. Since his departure, his successor has returned to the Barney Fife VP role. Cheney was a leader. Like Rove, he was seen as truly being in charge, but behind the scenes he was also completely loyal to the president. He was declared to be evil like Darth Vader, which is liberals admitting how amazingly effective he was. He torments his opponents to this day whenever he speaks. When he speaks on the same day as the current president, it is another reminder of what happens when adults like him are in power. Saddam Hussein is gone thanks to this fabulous follically challenged Neocon.
Well done Mr. Cheney. You may have only been the second in command, but you are number one on this list.
All hail PBWGS everywhere.