Appearing on Wednesday night with Brent Bozell on Hannity & Colmes, Fox News liberal regular Kirsten Powers claimed Time’s Person of the Year copy is always positive: “They tend to be overly flowery. I don’t think it’s specific to Obama.”
Wrong. When Republican candidates win the presidency, Time isn’t so flowery. Compare 2008 with 2000. First, David Von Drehle swooning over Obama:
By now we are all accustomed to that Obi-Wan Kenobi calm, though we may never entirely understand it.In a soothing monotone, he highlights the scariest hairpin turns on his itinerary, the ones that combine difficulty with danger plus a jolt of existential risk.
.…In the waning days of his extraordinary year and on the cusp of his presidency, what now seems most salient about Obama is the opposite of flashy, the antithesis of rhetoric: he gets things done. He is a man about his business — a Mr. Fix It going to Washington.
…He sank the three-pointer with the cameras rolling. Made a speech in a football stadium feel intimate. Some might say these are not exactly Churchillian achievements, but in the land of the hapless, the competent man is king.
….Obama’s most formidable opponent, Hillary Clinton, tried to convince voters that he was all talk and no action, a vessel empty but for intoxicating fumes. Yet he was the one whose campaign ran like clockwork, while hers was a fratricidal mess. And by Nov. 4, the strongest party in the U.S. was no longer the Republican Party or the Democratic Party; it was the Obama Party.
.…His arrival on the scene feels like a step into the next century — his genome is global, his mind is innovative, his world is networked, and his spirit is democratic.
By contrast, Nancy Gibbs in the 2000 cover story offers faint praise to George W. Bush, and clearly trashes conservatives:
The candidate with the perfect bloodlines comes to office amid charges that his is a bastard presidency, sired not by the voters but by the courts.
….Lampooned as a feckless frat boy, he ran a more disciplined race than we have seen in years; he made his inexperience a virtue, his vagueness a shield, his sins a sign of sincerity.
….He took on the suicide wing of his party, which would rather be right than win, and made them roll over and play dead, threw the invisibility cloak over the congressional wing of his party and made them disappear.
Here’s some choice lines from Gibbs and John Dickerson from the 2004 POY story:
George W. Bush is about to set a political record. The first TIME poll since the election has his approval rating at 49%. Gallup has it at 53%, which doesn’t sound bad unless you consider that it’s the lowest December rating for a re-elected President in Gallup’s history.
….For sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes – and ours – on his faith in the power of leadership, George W. Bush is TIME’s 2004 Person of the Year.
….Bush has been President for only four years but has always been a punk at heart–the guy who in 1973 used to walk around Harvard during antiwar protests wearing cowboy boots and a bomber jacket, who was an outsider even in his own, high-achieving family (the black sheep, he once told the Queen of England).
The most shocking part of that story was no mention of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. It’s less shocking (but still annoying) that a spin magazine like Time would knock someone else for “reframing reality” to match a political design.