In a just-released list of who Forbes magazine deems the 100 most powerful females in the world, first lady Michelle Obama beats Oprah Winfrey (No. 3), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (4), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (5), Lady Gaga (7), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (11). That's because Mrs. Obama is at the top of the list, at No. 1. As reasons, Forbes cites the first lady's strong advocacy of better child nutrition and improvements in the lives of military families. Her fashion sense also gets high praise from the magazine, calling her "Jackie Kennedy with a law degree." The causes Michelle Obama has championed are no doubt important, but is she really more powerful than, say, Pelosi? She does not have the power to raise taxes. Does she have more power than Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor (No. 19)? U.S. News contributor Betty Boyd Caroli says her use of technology and social networking has given her a platform to reach more Americans than ever before, but she questions whether Mrs. Obama can really mobilize millions behind her anti-obesity campaign and other issues. [Read more about how Mrs. Obama is struggling to define her role.]
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