Every year, Gallup conducts a poll to see which persons Americans admire most. Between Dec. 2 and 6th, by landline and cellphone, 824 adults nationwide were asked:
What [woman/man] that you have heard or read about, living today in any part of the world, do you admire most? And who is your second choice?
For the 20th time in a row, with 13 percent, Hillary Clinton is America’s most admired woman, which, considering her thin record of actual accomplishment (aside from marrying well, from a political perspective), might be a case of which powerful woman have you heard about the most often and for the longest period of time?
All of which says nothing good about the low profile of women who’ve actually done great things on their own. It’s slightly encouraging that the second choice was 18-year-old civil rights activist Malala Yousafzai, with five percent.
Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. As a child, she became an advocate for girls’ education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived, and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. In 2014, she was nominated again and won, becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
After Yousafzai came entertainment juggernaut Oprah Winfrey and first lady Michelle Obama (who also married well, politically speaking) with four percent; and, with two percent, GOP presidential contender and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Queen Elizabeth II and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Rounding out the field were were Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Myanmar politician and civil rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi, former Secretary of State (and would-be NFL commissioner) Condoleezza Rice, former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, each with one percent.
As Gallup noted, both Queen Elizabeth II and Mrs. Obama hold “largely ceremonial positions” in the government, although QEII came to hers by birth, not by marriage, and has served her realm since 1952 and apparently will continue to do so until her death.
The most admired man was President Barack Obama,with 17 percent.
Americans usually name the sitting U.S. president as the most admired man. The only men to win the distinction at least four times were all presidents. The tendency to name the sitting president as most admired man has acted as a cap on the number of total times a man can win the honor at eight, or the number of years elected presidents can serve.
This is Obama’s eighth nod, but the surprise this year was not Obama, who’s topped the list before, but who tied for second after him.
At five percent each were GOP presidential candidate, billionaire businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump, and Pope Francis — two men with very different lives.
Trump, a son of wealth from New York City, is all about the art of the deal, winning, making money, starring in “The Apprentice” franchise on NBC, owning beauty pageants, gilding everything in sight, marrying multiple women and having multiple children, and actively campaigning for the highest office in the land.
As a presidential candidate, his style is bombastic, aggressive, pugnacious and pugilistic, marked by bold statements and big promises.
Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina. He studied chemistry and worked as a bar bouncer and a janitor, and in a laboratory. At 21, he lost part of a lung.
Ordained a Jesuit priest, he took perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Humble even as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he lived in an apartment with a retired fellow Jesuit and took public transportation. After being named pope on March 12, 2013, he took the name of the Italian saint known for his love of the Gospels, the Eucharist and the poor.
As pope, he has traveled the world, preaching about charity, concern for families and the marginalized, care for the environment, and the value of humility, kindness and mercy. He doesn’t live in the papal apartments, and urges his fellow clerics to adopt a simpler lifestyle and stay close to their people.
What would be really interesting is to know who voted for Trump and who voted for Francis, and if either one was anyone’s top choice.
After The Donald and the pope, there’s Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, with three percent; Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, with two percent; and, with one percent each, GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham.
Trump’s surprisingly strong and often controversial presidential campaign has made him a prominent news figure this year and, thus, top-of-mind for many Americans. This helps explain his strong showing when Gallup asks Americans, in an open-ended fashion, to name the man they admire most. The successful businessman has finished in the top 10 four other times, including from 1988 through 1990 and in 2011.
Francis has gone from utterly unknown to world-renowned in less than three years, and much of his popularity can be attributed to his warm personal style.
For example, he tends to place calls to people who’ve either contacted him or who have had troubles he’s heard about.
From a Dec. 28 story at the religious Website Aleteia:
According to Italian media reports, a seven-year-old boy from the southern Italian parish of St. Nicholas of Bari in Mendicino, in the Calabrian city of Cosenza, was distressed over the poor health of his aunt. So he decided to send a letter to the Vatican asking Pope Francis to pray for her.
And then, a few days before Christmas, the pope personally called the home of the little boy to comfort him and assure the boy of his prayers.
The boy’s mother answered the phone. After the initial shock and stammering at realizing who was on the other end of the line, the mother explained that her son wasn’t home. According to reports, the pope spent 15 minutes talking with her.
The news was made known at Holy Mass on Christmas Eve by Don Enzo Gabrieli, the parish priest of St. Nicholas of Bari. The parents, who wish to remain anonymous, described the conversation as “warm and familiar,” saying the pope “was asking about them as though he were one of the family.”
“It was the most beautiful Christmas gift we have ever received, and it came at a time of trial,” the boy’s parents said.
Obama has also made calls to ordinary citizens, usually in the wake of a public controversy or a tragedy. For example, in November, he called the parents of Ezra Schwartz, an American teen killed in a Palestinian terror attack in the West Bank.
But even that act was not without its critics. From TheHill.com:
The State Department condemned the attack one day after it occurred, but some critics argued Obama had not done enough to publicly acknowledge Schwartz’s death.
“It seemed that neither the president nor his senior aides appreciate how devastating this particular attack was to the American Jewish community – and their slow, and still insufficient, response proves that,” Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center said in a statement Tuesday after the White House publicized Obama’s call.