Time’s Person of the Year … not Obama?

posted at 8:48 am on December 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Perhaps Time was reluctant to give it to Barack Obama two years in a row, but Obama didn’t even make the top five in this year’s competition.  Ben Bernanke got selected despite having done most of the work in rescuing the financial sector last year, and despite the fact that Congress may give him their most reluctant blessing for any Fed chairman in history.  In fact, as Congress looks to duck responsibility for the housing bubble and collapse it created, Bernanke has been one of their scapegoats:

Bernanke is the 56-year-old chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the U.S., the most important and least understood force shaping the American — and global — economy. Those green bills featuring dead Presidents are labeled federal reserve note for a reason: the Fed controls the money supply. It is an independent government agency that conducts monetary policy, which means it sets short-term interest rates — which means it has immense influence over inflation, unemployment, the strength of the dollar and the strength of your wallet. And ever since global credit markets began imploding, its mild-mannered chairman has dramatically expanded those powers and reinvented the Fed.

Professor Bernanke of Princeton was a leading scholar of the Great Depression. He knew how the passive Fed of the 1930s helped create the calamity — through its stubborn refusal to expand the money supply and its tragic lack of imagination and experimentation. Chairman Bernanke of Washington was determined not to be the Fed chairman who presided over Depression 2.0. So when turbulence in U.S. housing markets metastasized into the worst global financial crisis in more than 75 years, he conjured up trillions of new dollars and blasted them into the economy; engineered massive public rescues of failing private companies; ratcheted down interest rates to zero; lent to mutual funds, hedge funds, foreign banks, investment banks, manufacturers, insurers and other borrowers who had never dreamed of receiving Fed cash; jump-started stalled credit markets in everything from car loans to corporate paper; revolutionized housing finance with a breathtaking shopping spree for mortgage bonds; blew up the Fed’s balance sheet to three times its previous size; and generally transformed the staid arena of central banking into a stage for desperate improvisation. He didn’t just reshape U.S. monetary policy; he led an effort to save the world economy.

Time then launches into Bernanke’s heroic efforts to save the world economy by propping up Wall Street — but that was a good argument for making Bernanke the PoY in 2008 rather than 2009.  The Fed took its most dramatic action last year, but many fundamentally misunderstood the effort.  While people were shrieking for the heads of Wall Street (and later arranging for protest tours of AIG executives’ homes), Bernanke understood that a total collapse of the financial system was in no one’s interest.

This year, though, the Fed has hardly been the force in finance.  Democrats have undermined the dollar by spending in a manner that shames drunken sailors.  They have a regulation package passing through Congress that would give politicians even more power to warp markets for social engineering.  While derivatives need better oversight, Congress and the Obama administration are putting the crisis to use in order to go far beyond reasonable regulation into a form of corporatism for the banking and financial sectors.

Who were the other newsmakers that came up short in Time’s selection process?

  • General Stanley McChrystal
  • Nancy Pelosi
  • The Chinese worker
  • Usain Bolt

If I were Barack Obama, I’d be a little embarrassed that the Chinese worker and Usain Bolt kept me out of the top five.  After all, any President of the United States is normally a bit more influential than a sprinter and the workforce of a developing country.  But Obama was supposed to be transformative; he was supposed to “restore our standing in the world,” make the oceans recede and the planet cool, and provide Hope and Change not just to America but to the world.

At least Obama made the “People who Mattered” list … at number 12.  He’s behind Adam Lambert, Jon and Kate Gosselin, and Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs.  Obama is eight positions below his own chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who put a lot more effort into the legislative agenda than Obama himself did.  Obama made himself almost irrelevant to his own set of priorities, passing the buck to Nancy Pelosi instead — and paying a big price on both Porkulus and ObamaCare for doing so.

Somehow, I think Time’s grade for Obama came in at something less than a “good, solid B-plus.”

Who would be your suggestion for Hot Air readers’ Person of the Year?

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While I don’t always admire Bernanke, I think he’s a far better choice than Pelosi. I’ll settle.

jeanie on December 16, 2009 at 11:57 AM

I’m surprised that Barney Frank didn’t get a nomination–considering what the Times position has been for the last 3 years…

lovingmyUSA on December 16, 2009 at 11:57 AM

HornetSting on December 16, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Great minds and all that. Anybody that wants to go hunting, vox is hanging around the Ahnold/Palin thread.

kingsjester on December 16, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Hawkdriver~Poster of the Year
~The Tea Partier~Person of the Year.

HornetSting on December 16, 2009 at 11:55 AM

totally agree

cmsinaz on December 16, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Person of the Year: Glenn Beck.

MadisonConservative on December 16, 2009 at 12:03 PM

destruction of the dollar is no small thing.

daesleeper on December 16, 2009 at 12:08 PM

Great minds and all that. Anybody that wants to go hunting, vox is hanging around the Ahnold/Palin thread.

kingsjester on December 16, 2009 at 11:59 AM

vox is as moronic as simple, more obsessed, and I think actually angrier!

daesleeper on December 16, 2009 at 12:09 PM

perfect use of the quotation tags….

daesleeper on December 16, 2009 at 12:09 PM

Person of the year- The Tea-bagger protester. The movement delayed healthcare reform well past the August due date that it was supposed to be foisted on the American Public and, while we will see something that is called healthcare and it will be very bad….. it isn’t anything like what the filthy lying coward planned last summer.

highhopes on December 16, 2009 at 12:11 PM

My personal rankin:

1-Roberto Micheletti
2-The young rebels of Iran
3-Glen Beck and The Tea Party movement
4-Nancy Pelosi (she’s the one who is ruling America)
5-Susan Boyle

Falz on December 16, 2009 at 12:20 PM

So Obama Derangement Syndrome is so fierce that even when he is not the news you have to make him the news?

Decider on December 16, 2009 at 10:26 AM

Hey, your Dear Leader does that every day-blames Bush for his own failures.

But thanks for playing!

Del Dolemonte on December 16, 2009 at 12:39 PM


No one denies the magnificent, all-knowing, all-caring Caliph Barack ANY award or recognition.

All Hail….the great Caliph!!!!

PappyD61 on December 16, 2009 at 12:48 PM

But thanks for playing!

Del Dolemonte on December 16, 2009 at 12:39 PM


cmsinaz on December 16, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Without question the Tea Party movement. Hands down.

Didn’t they do something stupid like “you” a couple years ago?

russcote on December 16, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Person of the year: Ben Bernanke’s nemesis, Ron Paul.

JohnGalt23 on December 16, 2009 at 12:52 PM

In 1989, their Person of the DECADE was Gorbachev.

In 1999, their Person of the CENTURY was Einstein.

I would have thought they would have done a Person of the Decade thing again, and in that case, for better or worse, it could only have been George W. Bush.

YYZ on December 16, 2009 at 12:52 PM

Usain Bolt? What the hell did he do in 2009? Ran really fast?


madne0 on December 16, 2009 at 12:52 PM

Totus 1 should have been awarded the honor posthumously. After all, he gave his life in the line of duty while propping up the idiot in chief.

ZeeMI on December 16, 2009 at 12:59 PM

More like man to defeat of the year.

Despite this PR push it’s becoming clear to all, the 100 year monetized debt experiment has failed. Miserably.
1921 = Great Agricultural Depression
1929 = Great Depression
1950 on = 90% devaluatation of the Dollar.
2008 = Great Depression II ???

Hmmm, let’s look at the mandate of the FED.
1) Tame the business cycle….FAIL.
2) No more depressions/recessions….FAIL.
3) Control inflation….let’s see…..FAIL.

speed on December 16, 2009 at 1:19 PM

Hawkdriver~was that your machine on Fox the other day?

Sure was. I was the aircraft hovering with the snipers. Fox used the footage from several days of missions in four separate stories about us and the Special Forces units in Zabul Province. Met Greg Palkot. Great experience.

hawkdriver on December 16, 2009 at 1:36 PM

It really should have been Obama.
Abby Adams on December 16, 2009 at 8:48 AM

If Ben Bernanke is a Unitarian would you reconsider?

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on December 16, 2009 at 1:52 PM

Obama loses the Heisman and Time Person of the Year in one week! Michelle is not getting good presents this Christmas.

lonestar1 on December 16, 2009 at 1:54 PM

hawkdriver on December 16, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Chief, you there and Tea Party people here are the Persons of the Year.

Janos Hunyadi on December 16, 2009 at 2:01 PM

NOTHING is accidental with Axelrod/Emanuel. This will tell you how important Bernanke’s role is.

marklmail on December 16, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Ever notice when Time puts the photo of their Person of the Year on its cover how they strategically place the M? For his role in destroying the economy while his friends got rich, Bernanke was rewarded with the “horns of lucifer” by Luce’s skull-and-bones rag.

simeon on December 16, 2009 at 2:52 PM

Considering they’ll no doubt already decided to name him “Person of the Decade” next year, maybe they’re worried it would seem crass to go with “Person of the Year” this time.

Blacklake on December 16, 2009 at 3:06 PM

But of course.

While a King can be powerful,

it’s the man who has a firm grip on the King’s purse that has ‘true’ power.

CPT. Charles on December 16, 2009 at 3:15 PM

My Nominees

1:) Glenn Beck
2:) Tie Rush Limbagh/Olbermann two guys rallying their troops
3:) Tie Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi/CongressWOMAN Michelle Backman
4:) Sarah Palin
5:) The American BLOGGER (The real new journalists)

rednebulastudios on December 16, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Hmmm… so a failing leftist weekly still thinks that its pick for “Person of the Year” is relevant? Sorry. As far as I’m concerned, “TIME’s up.”

n0doz on December 16, 2009 at 4:51 PM

“Ben Bernanke: He DOES look like those guys on the dollar bills…”

VekTor on December 16, 2009 at 5:41 PM

At least it wasn’t Pelosi!
At least it wasn’t Pelosi!
At least it wasn’t Pelosi!
At least it wasn’t Pelosi!
At least it wasn’t Pelosi!
At least it wasn’t Pelosi!

pilamaye on December 16, 2009 at 7:00 PM

Breaking: Even O’Reilly gets it!

Rovin on December 16, 2009 at 11:21 PM

Considering the breaking email scandal I’d nominate Bob Carter who has been a big part of the movement asking for complete transparency from goups like EAU.

One Angry Christian on December 17, 2009 at 1:08 AM