Thursday, December 23, 2010

MTV College Network's Man of the Year: Robert Gates

College students are going crazy for ... Robert Gates?

MTV's college network, mtvU, has named the secretary of defense its Man of the Year for helping overturn the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and changing the establishment from within.

In a statement on its website, the network called the 67-year-old former CIA agent a "beacon of reason in a sea of polarizing soundbytes."

It also praised him for standing up for the country's troops:

"He inherited two wars that have deeply divided college students nationwide, but Secretary Gates and the college audience have always been in lock step on a critical principal: Doing what's best for our troops and a new generation of veterans."

Gates, a Republican who was first appointed defense secretary by President George W. Bush, was in some hip company. The network named rapper Nicki Minaj as Woman of the Year for speaking out against homophobia and sexism and for helping to fight breast cancer.

Gates has been outspoken against the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which banned gays from openly serving in the military until it was overturned in a bill signed into law today by President Barack Obama.

The network's decision to choose Gates for the honor "is somewhat counterintuitive," MTV General Manager Stephen Friedman told Reuters. "But when you look at what he's done, especially this year ... he's really a role model as a public servant who has avoided the partisan rhetoric."

Friedman told Reuters that members of the "millennial generation" see themselves as being a part of the establishment and think they can change it from within.

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