This is sure to annoy Ron Paul fans. Time editor Richard Stengel announced this morning on NBC's Today that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is Time's 2009 Person of the Year. Stengel called him the "most powerful, least understood" government official and a real force in the economy.
Political timing may have helped. Matt Lauer joked that Bernanke goes to Capitol Hill tomorrow about his reappointment to the Fed, and he should just hold the Time cover up and say they have to vote for him now. Time could feel their choice helped shape the news, not just followed the news.
Stengel suggested Bernanke "hasn't stepped up for full employment" in the bad economy. He also suggested Barack Obama "could be Person of the Year every year," but not this year.
Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were both implausible choices with the health-care bills still swirling around inconclusively. Either choice certainly would have looked like a vote for the Democrats on health care, but they also threatened to look silly if they couldn't actually get the job done for liberals.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal came in second behind Bernanke. This might suggest that Time's comfortable naming the troops as Persons of the Year, as they did a few years ago, but doesn't really want to salute the generals too much.