22 December 2007

Defensible Choice from Time

The more loyal of my readers my remember my grousing a year ago about Time Magazine's choice for 2006 Person of the Year. It was "you." The cover pictured a computer, with a reflecting surface used for its screen, so the reader, or casual walker-by of a newsstand for that matter, would see him/herself on/in the screen as POTY.

I thought the whole thing was a cop-out, and that Time should stick closed to the idea of an idiosyncratic individual newsmaker for this honor -- the idea that inspired the first Man of the Year cover in 1927 (Charles Lindbergh) and most since.

The first woman to receive the nod, by the way, was Wallis Simpson, in 1936.

Time has come through for us traditionalists this year. Its POTY is ... Vladimir Putin of Russia. I'm not crazy about the aesthetics of Putin's ugly mug staring out at us but, hey, maybe that's just me.

Its a defensible choice, since Russia has been one of the world's great powers under one political regime or another since around the time Napoleon ran into trouble there, and the head of state there is almost inevitably important to the destinies far beyond its borders.

Obviously, the naming of a POTY is not a political endorsement. Henry Luce wasn't expressing his happiness about the abdication of a monarch when he put Mrs Simpson on the cover, either.

Joseph Stalin (not a Russian, strictly, a Georgian) was POTY twice: 1939 and 1942. He was Hitler's ally when the first of those covers appeared, and had become Hitler's adversary by the time the second did.

Yuri Andropov shared POTY status with negotiating partner Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Gorbachev was POTY twice -- 1987 and 1989. The first of those recognitions concerned his efforts to reform the Soviet Union from within. By the second such cover, it was clear that the process had brought an end to that superpower.

The point is, I guess, this: I shouldn't be disheartened. I couldn't really have expected that I'd win twice in a row. Heck, even Gorbachev has that off-year in '88.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.