Some men, and some women, are born with power, to paraphrase the old adage, while others have it thrust upon them. This seldom is the case these days. The majority of people on Washington Life’s selective list of the most powerful have earned their status the hard way. They would be first to admit that a sense of power is in the eyes of the beholder—that projection often is the key to how power is best applied.
Such a concept was part of the infamous list entrepreneur Bill Regardie contrived someyears ago to define the term and its relevance to the Washington scene. His “rules” perversely eliminated anyone drawing a government paycheck, which at canceling theidea that titles automatically confer prestige. (They often do so, but empty suits are all too common a sight among posturing strutters in our public office.) Another Regardierule stated that wealth doesn’t necessarily beget power, which means that many hoping to claim advantages based on inheritance or a talent for acquisitiveness have to prove otherwise. Money is easy; it’s power that is hard — hard to get and relatively easy to lose.