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MICKEY MAURER: Fame is fleeting—and justifiably so—for some

August 3, 2018

commentary-maurer-2018.jpgLife’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.

And then is heard no more: It is a tale.

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.

Signifying nothing.

Shakespeare: Act 5, Scene 5 of “Macbeth”

Time magazine runs a special edition each year titled “The Time 100/The Most Influential People in the World.” Unlike most issues of Time that end up at the bottom of the birdcage, the Influential 100 issue has legs. That is why the other day I was able to pull from my files Time Vol. 171, No. 19, from 2008 and revisit some of Time’s favorite influencers of a decade ago. One might title this column, “Where aren’t they now?”

Comedian Chris Rock made The Time 100 in 2008. In an introduction written for Rock, Jerry Seinfeld said, “One of my favorite things about the world of stand-up comedy is that there’s justice. Pure, rapid, almost-hundred-percent-accurate justice.” I hope he is correct because this divorced comedian, who cites convicted sexual predator Bill Cosby among his influences, admitted in 2016 that he had an addiction to pornography. Rock is still on the scene but likely just one more faux pas from extinction.

Among the top 100 in 2008 was Hillary Clinton, whose virtues were extolled by Rob Reiner. According to Reiner, if elected president, Hillary Clinton would end the Iraq War, fix our health care system and get our economy back on track. Hillary Clinton has exited the world’s stage. She is unlikely to return.

In 2008, Oscar Pistorius, a double-leg amputee known as “Blade Runner” was a world-class sprinter who set his sights on the Olympic games. He finally got his chance in London in 2012. Pistorius stood as an exemplar for all who have disabilities. He was booted off the pedestal after his conviction for murdering his girlfriend in 2013.

Another athlete, Lance Armstrong, was named a top 100 influencer in 2008 and according to his biographer, Elizabeth Edwards, there is no one else quite like him. That is true today. No cyclist has ever fallen so precipitously from the pinnacle of his sport. What a shame. Fellow cancer sufferers and survivors continue to need the inspiration he once provided.

Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family, made the list in 2008. Time called him the “Arabian Warren Buffett” and Forbes listed him as the 45th-richest man in the world. In 2017 he was arrested in Saudi Arabia and accused of money laundering, bribery and extorting officials. After making a financial settlement in order to obtain his release, he dropped out of the world’s list of billionaires—and, I suspect, the top 100 influencers.

Time picked some lulus in 2008. This year’s effort may not be much better. Early returns are already showing signs of weakness. Comedian Rosanne Barr debuted her new season of “Rosanne” in 2018 with huge ratings, prompting Time to include her in its 2018 top 100. Shortly thereafter, Barr tweeted a vicious racist remark, causing ABC to cancel her show. Barr attributed her behavior to the sleep aid Ambien. The maker of that drug responded with, “Racism is not a known side effect.” Roseanne’s TV days are over.

President Donald Trump is also on the 2018 Time 100 most influential list. I’ll end this column now.•

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Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.com.

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