Bernanke Time's Person-of-the-Year

Usain Bolt, Nancy Pelosi, Gen. McChrystal and "The Chinese Worker" are runners-up

By Thomas Schaller
December 16, 2009 7:17PM (UTC)
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Ben Bernanke is Time magazine's Banker Nerd Person of the Year. A short excerpt from the opening section of Michael Grunwald's profile of the Federal Reserve Chair:

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.

Four runners-up were also cited: sprinter Usain Bolt; Gen. Stanley McChrystal; Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and, cryptically, "the Chinese Worker."


Back to the Fed chair. Explaining the magazine's choice, Grunwald writes: "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."

Well, all of that's true, I suppose. We'll just have to see what shape that prosperity takes.

Time also listed its 25 "People Who Mattered." They may matter for better (Manny Pacquio) or worse (Bernie Madoff); the distinction isn't normative. And though I really don't have a problem with Sarah Palin or even Glenn Beck making this list--whatever one thinks of them, sadly, they do matter--was disappointedto see SC Rep. Joe Wilson on the list, not to mention Jon and Kate. Ugh. (I'm sure readers have many of their own candidates, so fire away.)


The full list of 25:

1. Neda Agha-Soltan

2. Glenn Beck

3. Lloyd Blankfein

4. Rahm Emanuel

5. Dr. Thomas Frieden

6. Jon and Kate Gosselin

7. Hamid Karzai

8. Adam Lambert

9. Jay Leno and David Letterman

10. Bernie Madoff

11. Alan Mulally

12. Barack Obama

13. Manny Pacquiao


14. Sarah Palin

15. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart of Twilight

16. Alex Rodriguez

17. Olympia Snowe

18. Sonia Sotomayor

19. Chesley B. (Sully) Sullenberger III

20. Taylor Swift

21. The Twitter Guys

22. Joe Wilson

23. Tiger Woods

24. Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti


25. Zhou Xiaochuan

Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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