The reality is that the browser vendors have the ultimate veto on everything in the spec, since if they don’t implement it, the spec is nothing but a work of fiction. So they have a lot of influence—I don’t want to be writing fiction, I want to be writing a spec that documents the actual behaviour of browsers.
Whether that’s too much, I don’t know. Does gravity have too much influence on objects on earth? It’s just the way it is.
I’m just a spectator, albeit a very interested one, but I have long thought that Hickson possesses just the right mix of pragmatism and idealism for this job.