THE ALWAYS PROVOCATIVE Andrew Sullivan blogged on Tuesday about the Time magazine's "Man of the Year" process:
PERSON OF THE YEAR: I just got back from a fun luncheon for Time magazine, where a panel of me, Al Sharpton, Brian Williams, Alessandra Stanley and Coleen Rowley (the 9/11 FBI whistle-blower) discussed who should be Time's Person of the Year. My suggestions? Karl Rove, Muhammed, or a mix of Michael Moore and Mel Gibson. But as the discussion progressed, it seemed to me that the editors would have a hard time not picking Bush. Rove was critical to Bush's victory, but any Rove cover would inevitably be interpreted as some kind of insult to Bush himself. It would also do terribly on news stands, although the editor, Jim Kelly, said that was not a consideration. A generic person like the "terrorist"? Nah. Too defeatist and they've had too many generic persons of the year recently. And who other than GWB has affected the world more in the last twelve months. . . .
Sullivan can go far off on tangents, but in this instance he brought himself back to earth with the recognition that there is no other serious nominee for "Man of the Year" except George W. Bush. And Sullivan is right: "[A]ny Rove cover would inevitably be interpreted as some kind of insult to Bush himself." Indeed, any cover other than Bush will be judged as an insult to Bush.
Which is why I will not be surprised by any designation other than the president. Time is nothing if not contemptuous of Henry Luce's original audience, and the tastes of Manhattan and the left side of the Beltway would love nothing more than to amuse themselves with the idea of successfully insulting George W. Bush and his red state supporters.
The weeks following the election have been a revelation. There is hardly a whisper on the center-left about being out of step with the country's majority, of massive electoral miscalculation, of chagrin at losing Iowa for goodness sake. A thunderous Republican victory--wide and deep--is almost a non-event for the theoreticians of the left. Chris Matthews, on Monday night, deemed the Falluja terrorists as "not bad guys" and was off to lead the lynch mob in search of a nameless Marine who is said to have acted with too little concern for the rules of war. Cognescenti are worried about a purge at the CIA (the same folks who have been calling for a massive overhaul of the nation's intelligence structure) and about Bush loyalists being installed at State and Justice. Nowhere--except perhaps with James Carville--is there even the beginning of understanding at what happened on November 2.
Why would anyone expect Time's editors to escape from the fevers that have swept the left this year, fevers which have only grown worse post-election? To do the obvious thing and recognize 2004 as a year of Bush would be in some way to capitulate to the obvious center of gravity of American sentiment, and the left would rather talk insanely about secession than capitulate.
So here's to hoping that Time goes way off the rails--again. (Coleen "Andrew has to tell you who I am because no one remembers" Rowley was the first of the post 9/11 blunders, and others will follow.) Nothing more clearly underscores the madness of the left than its continued unveiling of its own, frantic pawing at the ground.
But why stop at some half-baked "Man of the Year" who isn't? Go whole hog, Time, and give us the list we deserve.
How about Bob Kerrey and Richard ben Veniste for Grandstanders of the Year? Or Dan Rather for Fraud of the Year? Or John Edwards for Lightweight of the Year?
How about Bob Shrum for Loser of the Year? Paul Krugman for Mad Hatter of the Year? Tom Daschle for Beltway Man of the Year?
I fully expect "The Religious Right" or Karl Rove or the prisoners of Abu Ghraib to be trotted out as a giant tut-tut from the magazine's editors, acting as surrogates for a disconnected and disconsolate left. Recognizing the president for the fact that he has dominated the year's events would be a sign that elites had begun to come to grips with their own rejection.
So don't hold your breath.
Hugh Hewitt is the host of a nationally syndicated radio show, and author most recently of If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends Upon It. His daily blog can be found at HughHewitt.com.