Sunday, December 18, 2005

Time's (underwhelming) People of the Year

Is it April Fool's Day? No, it's just the occasion of Time's yearly

Not that I've ever cared much about the nonsense that is Time's XXXXX of the Year award (man, woman, thing, being, etc.), but this year's recipients, Bill and Melinda Gates and U2's Bono, seem particularly underwhelming to me. That is, the award seems particularly underwhelming to me this year. Which is not to say that the richest man (couple) in the world and the world's most pretentious rock star are underwhelming in and of themselves. The Gateses are extraordinary philanthropists (but who wouldn't be with that kind of money?) and Bono's mouth is often in the right place (even if his loudmouthed, media-mongering do-gooding is often quite annoying, much like his recent musical efforts). But, honestly, do they deserve this award?

Time titles its cover story "The Good Samaritans". So that's what this is about? Rewarding high-profile good deeds? But why not all the volunteers who poured into tsunami-ravaged South and Southeast Asia and earthquake-ravaged Pakistan earlier in the year? Or the volunteers who stood firm during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita? Or... or... or... Why not give the award to The Unknown Samaritan, the person who isn't a rock star (an aging, mediocre one) or a new technology billionaire (a visionary, to be sure, but also one who has succeeded by squelching the competition). Yes, these are three good people, I'm sure, but...

Captain Ed offers his own criticism of Bono and the Gateses and suggests more deserving winners: "The true newsmakers this year, as Michelle Malkin notes in photos, were the people who went into the streets and overthrew dictators and autocracies in order to gain freedom for their nations -- in most cases, through non-violence. Ukrainians had their Orange Revolution; the Lebanese forced the Syrians to beat a hasty retreat across the Bekaa Valley after 29 years of military occupation following the murder of a pro-freedom statesman; and Iraqis faces bombs and death threats three times to in voting for a democracy and a new constitution to replace a genocidal tyrant in the heart of the Middle East, the first time that has ever occurred in an Arab nation."

You don't have to like Bush and the war in Iraq to praise the Iraqi voter, for example, or the Orange or Cedar revolutionary for standing up to the forces of tyranny and illiberalism.

Readers offer other suggestions at another Captain's Quarters post here. Sure, they're mostly "conservative" suggestions from largely "conservative" readers, but some make a lot of sense. Like Ariel Sharon, who hasn't gotten nearly enough credit for what he's done for peace in the Middle East.

My picks (in no particular order and in addition to The Unknown Samaritan, the Iraqi voter, and the Orange/Cedar revolutionary): Ariel Sharon; Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame (and everyone else involved in The Plame Game, including Patrick Fitzgerald, Judith Miller, and Scooter Libby); Pope Benedict XVI; and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, and everyone else involved in the Katrina fiasco.

Any other (after-the-fact) suggestions? Whom, dear reader, would you have picked?

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