Just a single line at the top of the page, but it’s all too plausible and Assange is, after all, leading Time’s online balloting. By a lot, in fact. In second place, trailing by more than 60,000 votes, is Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan; in third with less than half of Assange’s votes is, er, Lady Gaga. (Not the first time either that Turkish readers have freeped the hell out of a dopey Time poll.) That’s actually a perfect top three for our age. One’s an Islamist cretin, another’s a shameless fame whore pandering for media attention with bizarre hairstyles and transgressive stunts, and the third is Lady Gaga. Look in the mirror, world. Like what you see?
Assuming Drudge is right, the most awful part of choosing Assange isn’t, I think, that they’re rewarding an enemy of the U.S. — that’s no surprise — but that this guarantees an unbearably ponderous navel-gazing cover story about secrecy in the Internet age and state power against decentralized international actors and What It All Means to you. If they’re dead set on using Wikileaks as a peg for that, why don’t they make Wikileaks itself the “Organization of the Year” instead of singling out Assange? For that matter, why not make Bradley Manning “Person of the Year” instead? Answer, of course: Because Time doesn’t have the stones to do that given the backlash it would generate, and after all, Manning’s story as a lowly private who stole some documents isn’t nearly as gripping as a foreign-born super-hacker waging war on the U.S. government while on the run across Europe. In fact, watching the throng of photographers outside Assange’s bail hearing this morning, I wondered what would have happened if he had been released and the press were free to chase their new idol around, squealing ecstatically all the way. It would have been like the opening of “A Hard Day’s Night.”
I won’t bother suggesting that the tea party or one of its leaders, like Beck, should be “Person of the Year” since having to write that feature would seem too cruel a task to inflict on poor liberal Time writers. But there’s actually an excellent suggestion floating around in their online poll: “The Unemployed American.” Unemployment’s going to be a very big deal for a very long time (see Bernanke’s comments on “60 Minutes” recently for thoughts on that), and meanwhile, for all the bluster, no true bombshells have yet dropped from the Wikileaks docs. Maybe if the Unemployed American colored his hair white and started mumbling semi-coherently about “crushing bastards” in the U.S. government, that’d qualify him.
Now, take five minutes and read Michael Moynihan’s post about how far some Assange apologists are willing to go to defend him on those Swedish sex assault charges. And by “some apologists,” I mean Keith Olbermann.
Update: Olby does the right thing.