Wednesday, December 22, 2004

American Revolutionary

So, maybe I am naive in thinking that "revolutionary" refers to something or someone who has made major advances in the independence and liberty of this nation--George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. Someone dedicated, passionate, considerate. NOT BUSH! TIME magazine announced their "Person of the Year" (the Dec.27, 2004-Jan. 3, 2004 issue) and sure enough it's W, fine, whatever, he is the President, but the subtitle reads "President George W. Bush: American Revolutionary."

Excuse me for over-reacting, but I certainly don't think "revolutionary" is an adjective I'd use to describe the Commander in Chief. The heading in the table of contents reads: "George W. Bush for sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his ten-gallon-hat style of leadership and for setting the global agenda whether the world likes it or not, Bush is TIME's Person of the Year."

This is the second time Bush has appeared as Person of the Year, but certainly not the second time he has appeared on the cover of TIME. He has also appeared with such titles as: "President Bush?" "How They Aced Their Midterms," "Do You Want This War?" "Untruth and Consequences," "Mission Not Accomplished," "Love Him! Hate Him!" and "The World According to George Bush." Not quite revolutionary...

I watched on CBS Mr. Bush last night at the Kennedy Center Honors and was contemplating how I really feel about him. Sitting close behind him were the Powell's, Mr. and Mrs. Colin Powell, and next to him was Laura. I was thinking about what trouble we'd all be in if he didn't have those level heads in his life. After 9/11 when he made that comment about wanting Osama bin Laden "dead or alive," I was scared. And everytime her says anything about "smokin' em out," I become quite nervous. I just can't say the words George W. and revolutionary in the same sentence.

Hell, I can't say Kennedy and revolutionary in the same sentence and you all know how biased I am! Who would I have chosen as "Person of the Year?" Well, there are so many this year to choose from...Lance Armstrong, John Kerry, Martha Stewart, Michael Moore, Mel Gibson, Tom Brokaw...the list goes on. But those I feel are the strongest candidates are those we lost over this year. Reagan. End of story. Ray Charles. Christopher Reeve. The best of the best. But if anyone deserved "Person of the Year," and I'm probably digging my own hole saying this, it was Yassar Arafat. TIME says, "Arafat deserves a second Nobel Peace Prize--for dying." I don't know if I agree with that, but his death certainly is "revolutionary."


Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that the Person of the Year should not always be considered an award, I mean they gave it to Stalin twice and also to Hitler. With selections like them, how much of an honor can it truly be?

Tara A. Rowe said...


Nick Speth said...

Don't be ashamed to call John (I assume that's who you mean) Kennedy "revolutionary." He changed a lot of things, not the least of which was the structure of modern Presidential debates. Who can forget the Kennedy/Nixon debate where those listening on the radio thought Nixon won, but those who watched thought Kennedy won. Kennedy was the first presidential debater who looked at image and style as well as substance.

I'm sure glad that Anonymous (not you this time Tara) decided to quote the DNC talking points about this award. Every time a Republican wins the award, they bring up Hitler and Stalin. Here's the facts. Time's Person of the Year has nothing to do with approval or disapproval by Time Magazine, but rather it's given to the person who most influences the course of history for that year.

No doubt Hitler, Stalin, etc. did so, though in a negative way. Time's editorial board named them as Men of the Year (which was the award's title at the time), because they changed the course of history.

You listed some alternate candidates for the prize. Can you honestly say that any of them had more influence on world history than the President? Moore? Had Kerry taken the White House you could make the argument, but he didn't. Kerry? Ditto. Gibson? For what? Making a movie that did pretty well? Nah. Something tells me Brokaw would balk at the idea of being a newsmaker instead of a news reporter. No, if anyone else ought to get the award it should be Usama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, or Kofi Annan, none of whom I'm a big fan of obviously, but they have left their mark on the world lately.

I'm not sure if you've read the whole article, but if you haven't I suggest that you read the Time article before you judge the "revolutionary" distinction. Here's a quote:

"An ordinary politician tells swing voters what they want to hear; Bush invited them to vote for him because he refused to. Ordinary politicians need to be liked; Bush finds the hostility of his critics reassuring. Challengers run as outsiders, promising change; it's an extraordinary politician who tries this while holding the title Leader of the Free World. Ordinary Presidents have made mistakes and then sought to redeem themselves by admitting them; when Bush was told by some fellow Republicans that his fate depended on confessing his errors, he blew them off.

"For candidates, getting elected is the test that counts. Ronald Reagan did it by keeping things vague: It's Morning in America. Bill Clinton did it by keeping things small, running in peaceful times on school uniforms and V chips. Bush ran big and bold and specific all at the same time, rivaling Reagan in breadth of vision and Clinton in tactical ingenuity. He surpassed both men in winning bigger majorities in Congress and the statehouses. And he did it all while conducting an increasingly unpopular war, with an economy on tiptoes and a public conflicted about many issues but most of all about him."

They listed several ways Bush was "revolutionary" not in the Washingtonian sense, nor in the Che Guevara sense either, but in the way he changed politics as usual. Like him or not, George W Bush is the gutsiest politician to come down the pipe in a long time.

Anyway, I've gone too long. I'll shut up now. If we don't write again beforehand, Happy Holidays!

Nick Speth said...

Now the Arafat thing is a good idea! Yeah, in dying he gave the peace process a new chance. Hey we have a number one contender to the champeenship here. Just didn't want to leave Arafat uncommented upon.