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Civics Test

While writing my recent entry on Paul Martin becoming Prime Minister of Canada, I wondered to myself, "How many Americans know who the Prime Minister of Canada -- either the current or his predecessor -- is?" But then I wondered, "How many Americans know who their own political leaders are?"

Off the top of my head, I came up with my own list of the 15 most powerful elected or appointed officials in the US government. Of course, the contents and order of this list are an opinion only, but I'd guess most people would agree with most of my choices:

  1. The President of the United States
  2. The Vice-President of the United States
  3. The Secretary of Defense
  4. The Secretary of State
  5. The Speaker of the House of Representatives
  6. The Senate Majority Leader
  7. The National Security Advisor
  8. The White House Chief of Staff
  9. The Secretary of the Treasury
  10. The Attorney General
  11. The Secretary of Homeland Security
  12. The Senate Minority Leader
  13. The House Minority Leader
  14. The Director of Central Intelligence
  15. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Of these 15, how many could most Americans name? How many can you name?

By the way, I got 14 out of my own 15 choices -- I'm embarrassed to say that I hadn't a clue who the Director of the OMB was.

I'll add the answers in a comment to this entry.

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As promised, the answers to the quiz:

  1. The President of the United States: George W. Bush
  2. The Vice-President of the United States: Richard B. Cheney
  3. The Secretary of Defense: Donald Rumsfeld
  4. The Secretary of State: Colin Powell
  5. The Speaker of the House of Representatives: Dennis Hastert
  6. The Senate Majority Leader: Bill Frist
  7. The National Security Advisor: Dr. Condoleeza Rice
  8. The White House Chief of Staff: Andrew H. Card, Jr.
  9. The Secretary of the Treasury: John Snow
  10. The Attorney General: John Ashcroft
  11. The Secretary of Homeland Security: Tom Ridge
  12. The Senate Minority Leader: Tom Daschle
  13. The House Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi
  14. The Director of Central Intelligence: George J. Tenet
  15. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget: Joshua B. Bolten

Frank, the fact that you got 14/15 correct probably puts you in the top 1% of Americans. I consider myself fairly well-informed but only got around 1/3 of these right.

Scot, thanks for the kind words, but I'm kicking myself for having forgotten to place on my list the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board (Alan Greenspan). That position would have to be somewhere in the top five in terms of influence.

Frank, I got all but 3 -- won't admit to which I missed, though. Your list is limited to specific individual positions. Did you purposefully omit the Supreme Court (even as an entity vs. an individual)? In this era of the Patriot Act, they may very well be our last bastion of liberty and individual rights. (Perhaps my hoping to get them listed as “powerful” is wishful thinking?)

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