Time Goes Liberal, Names Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates Persons of the Year

Time’s decision to let their hearts bleed for global poverty and name Microsoft-fortune philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates and rock star Bono ("The Good Samaritans") as their Persons of the Year is a bit predictable. Mr. and Mrs. Gates made the cover of Newsweek a few years back for their massive philanthropy. You could argue the cover story looks like a payback, a big thank-you card: in the Gates article, Time admits: "Each day, the Gates Foundation receives about 140 requests for money or help. (It was a major sponsor of the Time Global Health Summit, held in New York City in November.)" Bono made the cover of Time previously for his globe-trotting activism, with the headline "Can Bono Save The World?" That cover story and this one have the same author, Josh Tyrangiel, and in both, Tyrangiel writes glowingly like a press agent about how effective and egoless and inspirational the rock singer is in lobbying for development aid. (It is interesting that Bono treats conservatives from John Kasich to Jesse Helms as serious people with good hearts and good brains, unlike, mmm, Time magazine most weeks.) Nancy Gibbs summarizes the award decision this way:

"2005 is the year they turned the corner, when Bono charmed and bullied and morally blackmailed the leaders of the world's richest countries into forgiving $40 billion in debt owed by the poorest; now those countries can spend the money on health and schools rather than interest payments—and have no more excuses for not doing so. The Gateses, having built the world's biggest charity, with a $29 billion endowment, spent the year giving more money away faster than anyone ever has, including nearly half a billion dollars for the Grand Challenges, in which they asked the very best brains in the world how they would solve a huge problem, like inventing a vaccine that needs no needles and no refrigeration, if they had the money to do it...

"For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are TIME's Persons of the Year."

What is left out of this formulation is the Gates Foundation's role as a primary funder of international abortion advocacy. The Time story only vaguely touches on this at two points in talking about past giving: "At first, Bill and Melinda focused their international giving on population control and reproductive health. But soon they learned that better health leads to smaller populations." And, at another point, an even vaguer note: "Until now, the foundation has focused on education, libraries, global health and Seattle-area initiatives."

But as Focus on the Family's Stuart Shepherd noted years ago, the Gates family loved funding the International Planned Parenthood Federation: "The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation boasts a $21 billion endowment, distributing grants in excess of $2 billion annually. And every year, the amount the foundation donates to the London-based IPPF grows. Gates gave $1.7 million in 1998, $3 million in 1999 and now, in 2000, $8.8 million. The latest grant will be spread over five years."

It's a little odd for them to note how heroic Bill and Melinda are saving that child that dies every few seconds from malaria, but ignore that they've helped women abort unborn children worldwide.

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