Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Person? Of The Year?

A bald man with a gray beard and tired eyes is sitting in his oversize Washington office, talking about the economy. He doesn't have a commanding presence. He isn't a mesmerizing speaker. He has none of the look-at-me swagger or listen-to-me charisma so common among men with oversize Washington offices. His arguments aren't partisan or ideological; they're methodical, grounded in data and the latest academic literature. When he doesn't know something, he doesn't bluster or bluff. He's professorial, which makes sense, because he spent most of his career as a professor.

He is not, in other words, a typical Beltway power broker. He's shy. He doesn't do the D.C. dinner-party circuit; he prefers to eat at home with his wife, who still makes him do the dishes and take out the trash. Then they do crosswords or read. Because Ben Bernanke is a nerd.

He just happens to be the most powerful nerd on the planet.

Now, look, I'm a nerd, so I suppose I should have some support for this news.
And it cannot be doubted that Bernanke has been front and center of the news this entire year. Or rather, his policies and oversight have. Too, I have nothing against a guy who hasn't married a DC pundit and whirls around the DC cocktail party circuit like a banshee. In fact, I rather like that about Bernanke.
But seriously...person of the year? This presumes that Bernanke's policies will have far-reaching effects throughout the economy for a period of time extending beyond this year, and that's up for grabs, as far as I'm concerned.
Indeed, from what I've seen, Bernanke has both been a factor creating the problems we've encountered and acted as a bandaid now that those chickens have roosted.
If maintaining the status quo is the most newsworthy thing a person can do in this "Year of No," then perhaps the real person of the year should be Joe Lieberman, whose insistence on being a slave to the corporatocracy while millions of Americans sicken and die under his thumb will have a far greater impact on American and by extension world culture than the few dribs and drabs and wrist-slaps of the Fed chairman.
A better choice: how about rewarding the courage of Olympia Snowe for getting on board the healthcare reform bandwagon and insisting that, come what may of the bill, it should be subject to serious debate and discussion in the halls of the Senate? I get the title is for the person who has made the most news this year, but it seems to me that means bucking the partisan trends of political thought to actually get something done. Without her, there is no healthcare discussion much less the pitiful reform we're seeing take shape.