From time to time, WVFC will invite a guest to frame an issue or news topic. Today, Douglas A. McIntyre, an astute media watcher and cultural cognoscente, discusses Time Magazine’s Person of The Year and the appearance of two prominent women on the roster of candidates. As always, comments are encouraged.

Time Magazine has been running its Man of The Year cover for more than 80 years. The news beauty contest is usually won by the sitting president, but from time to time someone else snags the award. Last year, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Bono took the prize under the heading "The Good Samaritans."

Time posted the eight individuals under consideration at its website. It used to be that the candidates were a closely guarded secret right up until the end, but putting the list of contenders on the website — and inviting visitors to vote — probably drives traffic.

One of the distinctive aspects of this year’s list is that it includes two prominent woman: Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House, and Condoleezza Rice.

The list also included despots Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il. Since Hitler was once named Man of the Year, influential but evil characters have been on the cover before.

George Bush, Al Gore, Hugo Chavez and the guys who sold YouTube to Google for $1.6 billion are also in the running. The YouTube people have enough money to buy Time, Inc. so they join the list of rich people like Gates who seem to be part of the new, trendy Person of the Year crowd.

Obviously, if you go back 20 years, there were not a lot of prominent women in public life. Now two are being considered for the Time honor.

Pelosi is by far the more interesting of the two. Rice is viewed as a bit of a sideshow to the problems of the Bush presidency and the war in Iraq. Pelosi, on the other hand, is the leader of the new movement that has come to Washington to change the way the federal government handles the war and administers the huge budget that seems to be spent on everyone except the people who need it — minorities, the elderly and the poor.

Pelosi is an anti-Bush figure, perhaps the anti-Bush person. She is poised, well-spoken and does not vacation on a small dirt farm in Texas that the president likes to call a ranch.

Pelosi makes the list of finalists because she represents, in one person, the sea change that voters wanted when they pushed out the current majority in the House and Senate. She has guts, and she does not have any problem confronting powerful people like Bush to make it known that he won’t get his way any more.

Pelosi, with a large majority backing her in the House, may be a more influential policy maker than Bush between now and the 2008 presidential election. Some people would say that this speaks badly of Bush, but it actually speaks very well of Pelosi. A woman as de facto president? Why not?

Douglas A.  McIntyre is editor of the financial commentary site 24/7 Wall St. He has run several tech companies and was president of Financial World Magazine.

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  • Vicky December 15, 2006 at 11:55 am

    What is most sad about the list, for me, is that those were the only two women they could think of to put on it.
    And I’m not saying I have alternatives, necessarily — if we following TIME’s apparent criteria of being media darlings. Very few women, unfortunately, get the same time as men on the nightly news.
    Having said that, if the criteria has something to do with making an impact on the world, well, then we could start naming women all over the world.
    Ironically, I think Ms. magazine forgot to name Women of the Year last year — all I could find on their site was from the year before.

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