December 21, 2007

Within hours of Time magazine’s announcement that it had chosen Vladimir Putin as it’s “€œPerson of the Year,”€ the GOP’s Team America began competing with one another to see who could be the most outraged.

Musing with Glenn Beck, Romney was “€œappalled,”€ calling the choice “€œreally disgusting.”€ In the governor’s mind, Time should never have dared give the honor to anyone but David Petraeus. He added: “€œOur mainstream media, I think, has just showed its hand”€ in reference to their love of dictators, particularly of the Russian variety. Although the NYTime‘s Walter Duranty was wont to fawn over Stalin”€>NYTime’s Walter Duranty was wont to fawn over Stalin, I haven”€™t seen much Russophilia in the MSM since the socialist paradise collapsed 15 years ago. I instead distinctly remember the MSM”€”Left, Right, and Center”€”cheering on the various color-coded revolutions specifically because they were anti-Putin, and, more recently, CNN presenting an hour-long special on “€œCzar Putin“€ and the “€œdark truth”€ about the new Russia. In this program, Christiane Amanpour reported that the president has “€œnear absolute power”€”€”a truly grandiose claim.

McCain tried to one-up his New Hampshire rival by announcing, “€œI looked into his eyes and saw three letters: a K, a G and a B.”€ The dig at Bush’s naïve glance into Vlad’s soul in 2001 is warranted; however, McCain seems to hunger after another Cold War, mentioning that a new one probably won”€™t get started up again because Russia isn”€™t up to the task. What a pity.
What Romney and McCain don”€™t seem to understand is that Time‘s “€œMan of the Year”€ is not an award given to the “€œmost patriotic American”€ or “€œmost diligent watcher of FOXNews”€”€”if so, Karen Hughes would have taken home the prize multiple times.

Instead, it goes to the person who most greatly affected world affairs. Many such people weren”€™t exactly angels. Adolph Hitler got the nod in 1938; Chinese Communist Deng Xiaoping and actual Russian dictator Joseph Stalin each won it twice; Ayatollah Komeini was recognized in the year of the Iranian Revolution; and more equivocal figures like Anwar Sadat, Richard Nixon, and Henry Kissinger all made the Time cover. (A full list can be found here.) Indeed, after Time‘s foray into narcissism in 2006, it’s good to see that they”€™re returning to geopolitics. A year ago, Patrick Buchanan made a good argument that Ahmadinejad should have been the Person of 2006; he was equally deserving in 2007.

Should Putin have won? Undoubtedly: A man who leaves his second term in office with 80% approval rating, who has secured control over his party and appointed a loyalist successor, who used petropower to reclaim Russian hegemony in the East, who has built a military alliance with the new colossus of the 21st century, China, and who has witnessed continued economic growth under his leadership is more than qualified for “€œPerson of the Year”€ honors.

Romney and McCain are in a fuss about Putin not because he’s some kind of dictator (Washington gets along with other autocrats just fine) but because the Russian president pursues what he sees as good for his country no matter whether Washington likes it or not. If the post-9/11 GOP continues to reject the very notion that other countries”€™ national interests might be different than America’s, they will continue to fail in the arena of foreign affairs”€”but at least they”€™ll have plenty more opportunities to be publicly outraged.    


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