Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Time Magazine's Person of the Year Choices Have Become Politically Correct

Time Magazine's Person of the Year choice for this year, President George W. Bush, may have been inevitable, and its issue announcing him is vastly entertaining. But overall, one cannot escape the impression that in recent years the Time editors have become less inspired in their Person of the Year choices.

Compare Time in the period since the War on Terror began with the period of the runup and beginnings of World War II.

In the five years, 1938 through 1942, Time's choices were inspired: Hitler for 1938, Stalin for 1939, Churchill for 1940, Roosevelt for 1941 and Stalin for 1942. All, it could be said, fulfilled Time's promise to name the man who had done the most to influence the world, for good or evil, in the particular year. And some of the quotations under the cover picture caught up the meaning of the whole year in a single phrase.

For Hitler in 1938, the caption read: "An Unholy Organist Plays A Hymm of Hate" and Hitler himself was shown hunched over an organ pounding away. For Churchill in 1940, the caption was, "Blood, Sweat, Tears...And Untold Courage." For Stalin in 1942, it was, "He Took All Hitler Could Give -- For A Second Time."

These truly summed up the year's in question. And, appropriately, four of the five chosen were foreign leaders, and, in those dreadful years, three of the five were Orwellian tyrants.

Compare these splendid choices with Time's choices for the years of the War on Terror, 2001 through 2004. We have Rudolph Giuliani for 2001, corporate whistleblowers for 2002, the American Soldier for 2003 and George W. Bush for 2004. During years of dramatic violent events throughout the world, all four choices are Americans, one of a President who may have arguably been more dominated by foreign events than successfully dominating them.

What is most wrong with Time's record of the last four years is the absence of Osama bin Laden. Surely, in 2001, he was the man who influenced the world most -- for evil, surely, but he should have been there.

Time's current editors simply aren't up to the World War II standard. Regrettable but true. And the lesson here is that as journalists, we have to look at the world as it is, not as we may wish it to be.

Time has dropped the caption under Person of the Year. Its editors no longer can face up to summarizing things as they really are.



Blogger darleene said...

You are probably right, that Time Magazine should have chosen Osama bin Laden as the Person of the Year in 2001. But then again, in 2001, wasn't Rudy Giuliani under fire for most of the year (or was that the previoius year?), then after Sept. 11, arguably became the nation's most beloved Republican? Just a thought. However, Time's choice of George W. Bush, I think, was appropriate, simply because just the mere mention of his name inspires one of two emotions - intense admiration or intense loathing. A truly polarizing figure.

12/28/2004 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah UBL should've been person of the year in 2001, Time dropped the ball there. Still GWB in 2004 was a good idea. Certainly, if the Prez had been going with the world flow there wouldn't have been an Iraq War. For good or for ill Bush has really been the man of the year. Who else would you have recommended? Saddam or Osama weren't really the prime movers this year, Kerry got battered around and lost, most world leaders didn't have much impact.

12/28/2004 9:09 PM  
Blogger jchess said...

Yes, that is a good question. Please answer it: If you find President George W. Bush inappropriate as Person of the Year, then who should have been chosen? I won't offer possibilities because I want it to be 'objective'.

12/30/2004 8:53 AM  
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