Ben Bernanke Tops Obama as Top "Global Thinker" of 2009

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to hear some harsh criticism this week when members of a congressional panel consider whether to support President Obama's nomination of Bernanke for a second term. To defend himself, the Fed chief can at least point to a new list from Foreign Policy magazine naming Bernanke the top "global thinker" of 2009.

In its first annual list of 100 thinkers who formed "the big ideas that shaped our world in 2009," Foreign Policy honors Bernanke with the top spot "for staving off a new Great Depression."

"The Zen-like chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve might not have topped the list solely for turning his superb academic career into a blueprint for action, for single-handedly reinventing the role of a central bank, or for preventing the collapse of the U.S. economy," according to the special report. "But to have done all of these within the span of a few months is certainly one of the greatest intellectual feats of recent years."

The magazine lists President Obama as the no. 2 "global thinker," "for reimagining America's role in the world."

"He is an unapologetic wonk with a professorial bearing, a 'radical incrementalist' (in the useful term of his detractors) who assesses, seeks advice, considers, seeks counsel again, and then tinkers. He is also a president with big ideas, particularly in his foreign policy," according to Foreign Policy.

The third "thinker" listed behind Bernanke and Mr. Obama is Iranian political scientist and reformer Zahra Rahnavard, "for being the brains behind Iran's Green Revolution and the campaign of her husband, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi." The rest of the top 25 on the list include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Central Command commander Army General David Petraeus, former Vice President Dick Cheney, journalist Malcolm Gladwell and Pope Benedict XVI.