Time is out with its "Persons of the Year" (more on that in a moment), and its annual list of "Persons Who Mattered." Pardon me if I'm slightly underwhelmed.
For "Persons of the Year," the magazine selected Bill and Melinda Gates and rocker Bono from U2. Mr. and Mrs. Gates were cited for their charitable efforts in funding health care initiatives in the developing world. But lest we forget, the Gates foundation also funds a host of population control and pro-abortion groups. Certainly Mr. Gates has earned his billions and can give them away in any manner he chooses. But it seems more than a little ironic that Gates is lauded for supporting the same types of charities that the MSM favors. And, if you don't believe politics plays a role in how the media covers billionaires and their charitable giving, take a look at some of the recent articles about the Walton Family Foundation. The liberal Nation accuses the Wal-Mart heirs of "trying to buy goodwill." Even Fortune has taken a swipe at how the Waltons give their money away, mostly in the form of small grants.
"...at some point the Waltons may have to abandon the practice if they want to accomplish great things. Think of the Rockefellers, who built Rockefeller University in New York and the University of Chicago. They checked the scourge of hook-worm in the South. They even reconstructed Colonial Williams-burg. Fair enough, the Waltons may not be interested in these kinds of projects. But in the end, if they ever want to join the top tier of great American philanthropic families, they may have to take the initiative and the responsibility for great accomplishments upon themselves. It would take even more innovative thinking and bold action than Winthrop Rockefeller brought to their state some 50 years ago. With a fortune this big, it might require the kind of single-mindedness, drive, and vision that Mr. Sam brought to Bentonville in the first place."
Bono, who shares Person of the Year honors with Bill and Melinda Gates, strikes me as sincere, but misguided. For years, he's been on a crusade to pressure the U.S. and other wealthy nations to forgive the debts of third-world nations. That (presumably) will allow them to borrow more money, default on their loads, and get Bono to bail them out again somewhere down the road. Incidentally, Paul Theroux has a brillant deconstruction of Bono's "more money/more debt forgiveness" approach in a recent edition of The New York Times. Hat tip: Betsy Newmark.
But it gets worse; take a look at some of the luminaries on Time's "People Who Mattered" list: Gold Star mother-turned-anti-war loon Cindy Sheehan; the breath-takingly incompetent mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin; Iranian Presidential nut-job Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, actress Geena Davis (TV's first female Commander-in-Chief), and rapper/race baiter Kanye West.
If Time's editors were looking for people that really mattered in 2005, here are a couple of worthy nominees. I'll begin with Lt Gen David Petraeus, U.S. Army, the man who headed our efforts to train Iraqi security forces and get them in the field. The expected drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq in 2006 are the result of two factors: first, the exceptional work of our soldiers, and secondly, General Petraeus's yeoman's efforts to train Iraqi security forces. The Iraqis' ability to take the lead in securing last week's elections is a reflection of how successful Petraeus has been.
My second nominee is also an Army officer, Lt Col Erik Kurilla, commander of 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment. If you've read Michael Yong incredible dispatches from Iraq, you know Lt Col Kurilla. Under his leadership, his battalion (the Deuce Four) played an instrumental role in winning the Battle of Mosul, helping wrest control of the city from the insurgents. Kurilla--who led from the front and was wounded in a close-quarters battle with the terrorists--is a sterling example of the brillant combat leadership that is making a diference in Iraq.
That's why men like General Petraeus and Lt Col Kurilla matter far more than a left-wing loon like Cindy Sheehan, a racist rapper like Kanye West, or a political hack like Ray Nagin. But sadly, you'll never convince the editors of Time that a single David Petraeus or Eric Kurilla is worth more than all their celebrities and activists put together.
Here's a challenge to the blogosphere: submit your nominations for other People Who Really Mattered, and I'll post them.