December 9, 2015

ANGELA MERKEL NAMED TIME MAGAZINE’S ‘PERSON OF THE YEAR,’ AP reports:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been named Time’s Person of the Year, praised Wednesday by the magazine for her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis.

“Not once or twice but three times there has been reason to wonder this year whether Europe could continue to exist, not culturally or geographically but as a historic experiment in ambitious statecraft,” Time editor Nancy Gibbs wrote. “You can agree with her or not, but she is not taking the easy road. Leaders are tested only when people don’t want to follow. For asking more of her country than most politicians would dare, for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience and for providing steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply, Angela Merkel is TIME’s Person of the Year.”

In response, Donald Trump snarked:

“I told you Time Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite,” Trump tweeted. “They picked person who is ruining Germany.”

And he’s right on that — Merkel is taking Germany “Down a Suicidal Path,” as Victor Davis Hanson wrote in late October:

In terms of tough leadership, Germany’s iron lady, Merkel, had trumped even the reputation of Britain’s late former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. In world opinion, Merkel was deemed just as decisive as Thatcher, but with a far stronger global hand to play and with a more popular embrace of social justice.

In sum, the new post–Cold War Germany was evolving into the leader of the West, especially during the American recessional from world affairs orchestrated by President Barack Obama.

No more. In just the last six months Germany in general, and Merkel in particular, have imploded.

Merkel’s disastrous decision to open the borders of Germany — and with them Europe’s as well — is proving both selfish and suicidal.

Hordes of migrants are swarming into Europe. Merkel’s naïveté cannot be dressed up in her professed humanitarianism, given that many of the migrants are young, single men from the Middle East who pour into Europe not as political refuges but as opportunists eager for European social largesse.

Aside from the costs, and the religious and social tensions that hundreds of thousands of young unemployed Muslim males will create in Europe, there are lots of other hypocrisies in the German migrant situation.

Germany was far tougher in its fiscal negotiations with kindred European nation Greece than it has been with Middle Eastern migrants.

Merkel logically lectured Greece that its reckless borrowing could not be allowed to undermine the European Union. But isn’t that selfishness similar to what Germany is now doing? With Merkel urging other European nations to take in waves of migrants and thereby inviting a flood of refugees across the borders of its neighbors, Germany’s far poorer neighbors will bear much of the cost.

All of which can be summed up in a single word that was on everyone’s lips last month: Paris.

Which Merkel — or at the very least those with her “what could go wrong?” mindset  — deserve more than a little blame for. In the 1920s, Henry Luce, the center-right founder of Time magazine, originally conceived his “Man of the Year” category as a way of recognizing that individuals making choices drive history, and sometimes via quite disastrous decisions, as Jonah Goldberg noted in 2006,  after Time wimped out by choosing you! — and me! — and everyone! — as their “Person of the Year,” rather than plastering Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on their cover:

The intellectual flubber of Time’s decision is manifest on many levels. Though some argue that Time was patting the American people on the head for voting the way they wanted in the last election, the more obvious explanation is that Time’s editors didn’t want to offend anybody. “If you choose an individual, you have to justify how that person affected millions of people,” Richard Stengel, Time’s newly vintaged managing editor, told the Associated Press. “But if you choose millions of people, you don’t have to justify it to anyone.”

Well, isn’t that convenient. Heaven forbid a news editor do something controversial that would have to be defended on the merits. Spare the delicate flowers such hardship!

Stengel added that if Time had to choose a real person to be Person of the Year, it would likely have been Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “It just felt to me a little off selecting him,” Stengel said.

One might wonder if it felt “a little off” to past Time editors who awarded the Man of the Year award to Hitler in 1938 or to Stalin — twice, once in 1939 and again in 1942 — or to the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.

But the answer is that it didn’t bother the old editors, not really. Because Time’s Man of the Year award was originally conceived as something other than the Mother of All Puff Pieces.

Time founder Henry Luce swam against the stream of Marxist determinism which held that history unfolded according to cold, impersonal forces. He believed individuals — i.e. great men and women — matter. He said the original award should go to the person “who most affected the news or our lives, for good or ill, this year.” That was the point of picking Charles Lindbergh as the first Man of the Year — because he, and he alone, seemed to be ushering in a New Age. Hitler was MOY in 1938 because he might have been ushering in a Dark Age. You are Person of the Year because the editors of Time want to live in a Feel-Good Age where everyone is empowered (hence Time’s rationalizations about the people-power of the Internet).

Of course, Time has punted many times before. For example, in 1988, beating the fierce competition, Earth was named “Planet of the Year.” No doubt that choice sounded very clever in the editorial-board meeting.

Time’s 2001 decision, naming Rudy Giuliani person of the year, was even more telling. This was a true profile-in-cowardice moment. There was no intellectually defensible standard for suggesting that the able mayor affected the news or our lives more than Osama bin Laden, who at the time seemed at least to be the Gavrilo Princip of the 21st century. (Princip was the fellow who launched World War I, which in turn launched World War II and the Cold War.)

While Henry Luce wouldn’t recognize very much these days at the magazine he founded other than its logo, give Time credit for getting their choice this year right, even if they can’t see the reasons why themselves. And for passing over the massive PR blizzard that would have come from putting The Donald on there. Or to bring this post full circle:

geraghty_merkel_12-9-15-1

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