I surfaced from Christmas preparations briefly this weekend to hear that Time magazine has chosen George B. Bush as the 2004 Man of the Year. Well, most of you probably know he wouldn't be my choice -- wouldn't have even made my shortlist. But, as the cliché puts it: "Everybody loves a winner". So I just shook my head ruefully and went back to wrapping Christmas presents.
The story had a follow-up this morning, when the other two names on the shortlist were announced: Michael Moore and Mel Gibson. I stood there for a moment staring stupidly at the radio, certain I couldn't possibly have heard that correctly. But no, they said it again, so I guess it's true: GWB beat out Michael Moore and Mel Gibson to win Man of the Year honours. Now, please, take a moment and think about that threesome. I'm sorry, but to me it's beyond surreal, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what those people at Time were thinking of. At first I took it seriously, and it made me furious. I thought that if that's the best they could come up with, I might as well cancel my subscription and be done with it. Then fury turned into bemusement, as I tried to picture what Mel, George, and Michael might find to talk about if they found themselves stranded together on a (small) (desert) island, with no polar bears or 16-year-old distress signals to break the monotony (where's a New Yorker cartoonist when you need one ...). I began wondering if the Time panelists had started their Christmas celebrations a little early this year and had spiked the eggnog with something really potent. Finally (and this is where the hysterical laughter comes in) I've come to the conclusion that the people at Time knew exactly what they were doing, which is blowing the biggest raspberry possible at the rest of us (or mooning us, if you prefer that image). And the best part of it is that it's so tongue-in-cheek, so witty, so droll, so ... so ... French! Dubya can puff out his chest a little bit more, the rest of the world can ignore the whole thing and go on about its business, and maybe next year's award will recognize something or someone that matters.