Last night, Time magazine presented a panel discussion on the candidates for its upcoming Person of the Year issue, due on newsstands December 15th. This year’s panel, moderated by the magazine’s managing editor, Richard Stengel [pictured above, far left], included Daisy Khan, the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and wife of Person of the Year candidate Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf; Democratic campaign worker and political consultant Joe Trippi; Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of geographic and local services; musician, producer and one-time hopeful for Haiti’s presidency Wyclef Jean (Jean said he was “bamboozled” out of running); and blogger and author Meghan McCain.
Among the topics discussed by the panelists were their top picks for the annual honor. McCain selected members of the Tea Party and was interested in seeing how those running on an “anti-Washington platform” would eventually fare in Washington, as well as Glenn Beck. Jean picked the people of Haiti for their resilience in the face of recent earthquakes and an outbreak of cholera, as well as for their ability to show how technology can help bring different parts of the globe together for a common cause. Khan lamented that she couldn’t pick Time itself for its recent thought-provoking cover story on Islamophobia in the United States. Her picks, in order, were Mayor Michael Bloomberg, her husband, and Jon Stewart, who nominated as a candidate alongside Stephen Colbert. Trippi, in keeping with his background in politics, selected Nancy Pelosi as his number one pick, followed by the Tea Party members. Mayer, drawing on her own interest in tech, selected either Steve Jobs of the smartphone for their continued impact. She also recounted how Time‘s 1982 Person of the Year pick (then dubbed “Man of the Year”), the personal computer, marked her very first encounter with that type of technology.
The discussion took an interesting turn when candidates were asked to defend one another’s choices (most were not exactly game), and then asked to select their “Bad Guy of the Year.” Khan selected Beck for his stance on immigration and religion, opining that his views went against “the American ethos.” Trippi colorfully referred to the iPod and iPad as “slingshots for Goliath, and McCain felt that Australian Julian Assange’s decision to reveal military information through his WikiLeaks site was “un-American” and likened him to a Bond villain.