Does Admiration Matter?

I'm going to go with, "No -- or at least not nearly as much as we might think."

Gallup pollsters reported Monday that President Obama was for the third year in a row "Americans' Most Admired Man," while Hillary Clinton was the most admired woman in America.

Indeed, "Clinton has dominated the Most Admired Woman title for most of the past two decades, earning 15 No. 1 rankings since her first appearance on the list in 1992," notes Gallup.

That didn't help her become the first female president in 2008, however, and all the admiration for Obama this fall didn't help him keep the House of Representatives in Democratic hands.

Meanwhile, the "single-digit performances" of Michelle Obama "on the list since Barack Obama took office are on the low side for other first ladies since Carter at this point in their husband's first term," Gallup notes.

Not that it really matters. Hillary Clinton, after all, was the most admired woman for 22 percent of survey respondents her first year of first lady, as compared to the just 7 percent support for Michelle Obama in hers -- and yet any reasonable observer would say Obama is far less controversial a figure than Clinton was.

Perhaps, in the end, this survey says something only about the nature of admiration.

We admire people who take risks or do things that are gutsy -- but we don't necessarily like them very much, or even back what it is they are up to.

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

Video

Is Minneapolis the Best City in America?

No other place mixes affordability, opportunity, and wealth so well.

More in Politics

Just In