Obama Ranks Third in Forbes ‘Most Powerful’ List, First Time Sitting U.S. President Drops Out of Top Two

• November 4, 2015 9:14 am


President Obama ranked third in the Forbes "World's Most Powerful People" list released Wednesday, the first time the sitting U.S. president has ever not ranked No. 1 or 2 in the annual survey.

For the third straight year, Russian president Vladimir Putin was listed at No. 1, but German chancellor Angela Merkel came in at No. 2. CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King expressed surprise at Obama's standing while the show's panel interviewed Forbes‘ Luisa Kroll about how the magazine came up with its list.

"That's the first time since we've been doing the list that any U.S. president falls out of the top two spots," Kroll said. "Again, I think that has a lot to do with the fact that this is going to be hist last year in office. He's a little bit more hamstrung, both domestically and internationally, and it's just a nod to his decreasing power at this time."

"I was stunned by that, because the U.S. economy is five times larger than the Russian economy," co-host Norah O'Donnell said. "We spend 10 times more on the military than the Russians do, so how do you define power for this issue?"

"It's money, it's the use of power, it's the spheres of influence, and it's the number of people," Kroll said. "Obviously, it's also a subjective list … It's not that we're saying the U.S. isn't powerful. It is definitely still the most powerful country."

Co-host Charlie Rose asked Kroll how Forbes decided Putin specifically rated as No. 1. Putin's aggressive actions against Ukraine and his influence in the Middle East, as well as his popularity at home, have kept him in the top spot.

"I think a lot has to do with how he exercises his power and his influence," Kroll said. "Whether it's in Crimea or in the Ukraine, he's not afraid to go out and exercise his power. He has no checks and balances."

"So it's not a question of being more powerful," Rose said. "He's simply using–"

"Yes, that's one of the factors," Kroll said. "How actively you use your power. Obviously, Barack Obama has more checks and balances because of the way the U.S. has been set up in a much more democratic fashion."

"And a less inclination to use it in the same way," Rose said.

On Obama, Forbes wrote:

There's no doubt that the United States remains the world's greatest economic, cultural, diplomatic, technological and military power. But as Obama enters the final year of his presidency, it's clear his influence is shrinking, and it's a bigger struggle than ever to get things done. At home, his approval ratings are perpetually stuck under 50%; abroad, he's outshined by Angela Merkel in Europe, and outmaneuvered by Putin in the Middle East.