Time magazine is interesting. I was at first upset by their selection of Vladimir Putin as Man of the Year. I even began clicking through my links to find stories about his evil rule, stories about people like Anna Politkovskaya his "fiercest critic", about his throttling of the free press in his nation. I admit, I was indignant. Petraeus was on the list of candidates after all. How dare they?
And then I read their disclaimer:
TIME's Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world—for better or for worse. It is ultimately about leadership—bold, earth-changing leadership. Putin is not a boy scout. He is not a democrat in any way that the West would define it. He is not a paragon of free speech. He stands, above all, for stability—stability before freedom, stability before choice, stability in a country that has hardly seen it for a hundred years. Whether he becomes more like the man for whom his grandfather prepared blinis—who himself was twice TIME's Person of the Year—or like Peter the Great, the historical figure he most admires; whether he proves to be a reformer or an autocrat who takes Russia back to an era of repression—this we will know only over the next decade. At significant cost to the principles and ideas that free nations prize, he has performed an extraordinary feat of leadership in imposing stability on a nation that has rarely known it and brought Russia back to the table of world power. For that reason, Vladimir Putin is TIME's 2007 Person of the Year.I can buy that.
If the media (including Time magazine) had proportional representation of Putin as a world-changer and actually covered his actions as a fledgling dictator rather than spend their time moaning about either the Bush economy or Iraq (depending on which one is doing poorly) perhaps this recognition would come as less of a surprise.