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They’ve punted on the "Person of the Year" honor before. Take, for example, when Time selected “The American Soldier” or “You” for the annual honor.
But this year Time really phoned it in, picking -- no drum roll please -- Ben Bernanke as its Person of the Year.
The magazine goes so far as to acknowledge the underwhelmingness of their own choice in the first paragraph of the story just in case readers were under the illusion they were about to read something worthwhile:
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.
One bright spot (literally, just look at the photo) on the list was Usain Bolt. Who is this impressively named gentleman? Only the world’s fastest man, naturally. Bolt's story -- of whizzing past "coconut trees" in a whimsical "village of Cascade" that has become a "vacation hot spot" -- blows Bernanke's charisma-less and swagger-challenged tale out of the water in the first paragraph.
Bernanke may well have rescued the U.S. economy, but in Bolt, Time could have highlighted a man who lifted his country out of the doldrums with actual flair. He, at least, might have helped Time out of it’s own economic abyss with a cover people might actually want to pick up.