No joke: Time names Fed chairman "Person of the Year"

Bleeding Heartland user American007 noted not long ago that Time Magazine often gives its “Person of the Year” award to people attempting to deal with a weak economy. So it was this year, when Time’s editors laughably chose Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke:

The story of the year was a weak economy that could have been much, much weaker. Thank the man who runs the Federal Reserve, our mild-mannered economic overlord

I wish I were joking, but here’s more from Time:

The overriding story of 2009 was the economy – the lousiness of it, and the fact that it wasn’t far lousier. It was a year of escalating layoffs, bankruptcies and foreclosures, the “new frugality” and the “new normal.” It was also a year of green shoots, a rebounding Dow and a fragile sense that the worst is over. Even the big political stories of 2009 – the struggles of the Democrats; the tea-party takeover of the Republicans; the stimulus; the deficit; GM and Chrysler; the backlash over bailouts and bonuses; the furious debates over health care, energy and financial regulation; the constant drumbeat of jobs, jobs, jobs – were, at heart, stories about the economy. And it’s Bernanke’s economy.

In 2009, Bernanke hurled unprecedented amounts of money into the banking system in unprecedented ways, while starting to lay the groundwork for the Fed’s eventual return to normality. He helped oversee the financial stress tests that finally calmed the markets, while launching a groundbreaking public relations campaign to demystify the Fed. Now that Obama has decided to keep him in his job, he has become a lightning rod in an intense national debate over the Fed as it approaches its second century.

But the main reason Ben Shalom Bernanke is TIME’s Person of the Year for 2009 is that he is the most important player guiding the world’s most important economy. His creative leadership helped ensure that 2009 was a period of weak recovery rather than catastrophic depression, and he still wields unrivaled power over our money, our jobs, our savings and our national future. The decisions he has made, and those he has yet to make, will shape the path of our prosperity, the direction of our politics and our relationship to the world.

Reality check: Bernanke has no plan to deal with unemployment, even though the “Federal Reserve Act dictates that one of the founding directives of the Federal Reserve is to ‘promote effectively the goals of maximum employment.’”

But Bernanke is wild about cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Hooray for our “mild-mannered economic overlord”!

The Senate Banking Committee votes on Bernanke’s renomination tomorrow, and he is expected to pass. However, three senators have said they will put a hold on his renomination when it reaches the floor.

I agree that the current recession could have deepened without the federal stimulus bill, especially if we had imposed the federal spending freeze Republicans wanted. But the stimulus should have been larger and better targeted toward job creation. Bernanke doesn’t favor any additional federal stimulus to create jobs. He shouldn’t even get another term at the Fed, let alone “Person of the Year.”

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Nine Possibilities for Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" 2009

(Speculation is always fun on a slow news day. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

It's coming up on the end of the year (believe it or not) and I thought it might be some good, lighthearted holiday discussion to think about who or what might be Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2009.

There are no real requirements for what a Person of the Year can be. It could be anything from a single person (Barack Obama, 2008), a group of people (Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates, 2005), or an abstraction (The Endangered Earth, 1988; You, 2006). The only criterion, since the establishment of the yearly issue in 1927 is that the nominee has “for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year.”

That said, here are, in my opinion, the ten most likely contenders (in no particular order).

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Time's "Person of the Year"

Time's annual "Person of the Year" issue is coming out soon, and I thought I'd offer my thoughts on who it could be. They have a nine-person pool up for "your vote", but I thought I'd go beyond that.  And I do think it'll be an actual person this time. Here are my odds for who will be named Time's "Person of the Year":

1-1 Al Gore: It's been a great year for Al. Between Live Earth, the Oscar, and the Nobel, he's been everywhere. Not to mention that giving him the honor on would be a snub to President Bush…(who's been awarded twice). Gore would seem the obvious choice.

3-1 Barack Obama Considering his meteoric rise, he's the big story out of American politics this year. His very candidacy has forced America to ask some very profound questions about ourselves as a country and a people. Could he be the new face of America? Yet he still trails in the polls, and Time may want to wait and see what he does in the future.

5-1 Hillary Clinton Like it or not, she's set the tone of the 2008 Election so far. She's the leader of the pack, for now and is a global figure. Yet Time may want to wait. Just like Obama though, if she wins the presidency she'll get the award for sure. And if she does turn out to be the Howard Dean of 2008…they'd look pretty foolish.

10-1 Nicolas Sarkozy The figurehead of Europe's swing to the right, he singlehandedly rebuilt the trans-Atlantic alliance. Time might like to select a world leader and Sarkozy certainly stands out in that area. However, has he had enough global impact to make the cut?

15-1 Steve Jobs As the Time page says, the iPhone was a hit, the iPod has changed the way we live, and Apple stock is up 100% for the year. The Mac Attack is back, but with business in general in a slump, will Time want to celebrate a captain of industry?

25-1 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad This dastardly dictator has certainly made waves in the world this year, and it's worth remembering that Stalin and Hitler both made the cut. But scowling Iranians don't sell magazines. (Or as Stephen Colbert would say Mahmoud Ahmagonnagetajob.

100-1 J.K. Rowling Seriously. Wars across the world, political battles at home, the Al Gore behemoth, and she gets the nod?! Still, Time has made some off the wall choices before. 

Who do you think it will be? Is there some figure I've overlooked? Let's hear your thoughts!

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