I‘m happy Pope Francis was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” As popes go, he’s not bad. It says something about the Vatican that when somebody who works there actually walks the walk in regard to Christianity, it’s quite amazing and newsworthy.
So: Good job, Frank. But don’t get all prideful, because look at your competition: Ted Cruz? Are you kidding me? Bashir Assad?
I know, Time always to qualifies its annual award by saying it’s all about influence — good or bad — as opposed to making the world a better place. But still. When the name of the award is “Person of the Year,” it always sounds like an honor. And it always seems like smarmy equivocation to short-list people who are, arguably, nothing more than headline-whores and amoral assholes.
It’s worth noting that Time‘s annual honor was called “Man of the Year” until 1999. Women were not considered very influential until that date. Oops. Sorry, Maggie! Sorry, Indira! Past winners include Hitler, Stalin, Khrushchev and Khomeini, so you can’t say it’s a new phenomenon for the magazine to honor the evil as well as the good.
As for the merely hapless, I don’t know. Edward Snowden was a finalist this year. I’d feel better about that if he were ever willing to do more than hunker down in Putin’s Russia and whine about the tyranny of American surveillance. While he has done a service in exposing the extent of domestic spying, I can’t help feeling that his motives for doing so were entirely selfish, and it all just blew up in his Millennial face. Without evidence to the contrary, I still think the man is a tool.
The other person on the short list was Edith Windsor. While she has garnered praise as a champion of same-sex marriage, it’s hard to see what she risked by taking up the cause in, let’s see — 2009. That’s kind of late in the day. Here’s a wealthy woman with homes in New York City and the Hamptons, suing the government to get a refund of $363,000 in estate taxes. Granted, it was groundbreaking when the Supreme Court ruled in her favor this year. But filing a discrimination lawsuit is about the easiest thing you can do in America, especially when you can afford top-flight legal talent. And don’t forget, she profited as a result. When someone profits from doing the right thing, for me it just kind of takes the shine off their good works.