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Time shocks world with unprecedented POTY pick
December 17, 2008 7:15 AM   Subscribe

"For having the confidence to sketch an ambitious future in a gloomy hour, and for showing the competence that makes Americans hopeful he might pull it off, president-elect Barack Obama is TIME's Person of the Year." Henry Paulson and Sarah Palin are among the runners-up.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (77 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Should I pretend to be surprised? You know, for politeness?
posted by Tehanu at 7:18 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dammit, I thought Anson Williams would take it for sure this year. He's due.
posted by RavinDave at 7:22 AM on December 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was hoping it would be me again.
posted by saul wright at 7:24 AM on December 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I won it a few years ago and to be honest, I'm not all that great. Makes me wonder about how great that Obama fellow can be. Does he also have a meth problem?
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:25 AM on December 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


As I recall, one of my first comments after Obama won the election was "Well, now we know who TIME's person of the year is going to be."
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:27 AM on December 17, 2008


Time was relevant in like 1970 maybe?
posted by norabarnacl3 at 7:30 AM on December 17, 2008


Rats - I had my money on Adrian Zmed.

Oh well, Barack is a swell guy too.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:31 AM on December 17, 2008


Time was relevant in like 1970 maybe?

It's relative.
posted by mandal at 7:32 AM on December 17, 2008 [9 favorites]


It's not exactly unprecedented for the President-elect to be selected as Time's Person of the Year.
posted by brandman at 7:33 AM on December 17, 2008


norabarnacl3: "Time was relevant in like 1970 maybe?"

At least through the mid-90s - the AOL merger was symbolic of the end of traditional media's dominance.
posted by stbalbach at 7:35 AM on December 17, 2008


Keep in mind that they may have gone to press before that guy threw his shoes at Bush.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:36 AM on December 17, 2008 [30 favorites]


Time pretty much killed their "Person of the Year" when they changed or abandoned their criteria to dodge placing Osama Bin Laden on the cover in 2001, when he was pretty clearly the person who, "for better or for worse, ...has done the most to influence the events of the year."

The final nail in the coffin came 5 years later, when "You" was person of the year in 2006. How fucking lame was that?
posted by explosion at 7:36 AM on December 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


I was rooting for "Moms and Dads" this year, but Obama is not a bad choice.
posted by Falconetti at 7:38 AM on December 17, 2008


Congratulations to Obama, but surely the triumph is diluted a bit by Sarah Palin being considered a contender.
posted by ardgedee at 7:42 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't it kinda like the Heisman trophy where the winner never does anything significant again?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:43 AM on December 17, 2008


You know who else was Time's Person of the Year?
posted by DU at 7:43 AM on December 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


You know who else was Time person of the year?
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:44 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mine had a link.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:45 AM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


You know who else was Time's Person of the Year?

Me?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:46 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I gotta say though, this college-aged photo shoot of him is pretty fantastic.
posted by schroedinger at 7:51 AM on December 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's not exactly unprecedented for the President-elect to be selected as Time's Person of the Year.

OHHHH! Whew.
posted by kingbenny at 7:52 AM on December 17, 2008


That Obama is the POTY is a shock to exactly no one, but the article that goes along with the selection is actually quite good.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:55 AM on December 17, 2008


I gotta say though, this college-aged photo shoot of him is pretty fantastic.

Dude, that is a fucking CHOICE 'fro. It's like every little detail I find out about him makes me like him even more. He collects Spider-Man comics, he had hair like Dolemite in college, etc.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:57 AM on December 17, 2008


I liked the hat until I imagined a matching string tie.
posted by DU at 8:02 AM on December 17, 2008


I gotta say though, this college-aged photo shoot of him is pretty fantastic.

yeah, there are some really great photos there.

although, i gotta say: i don't know how to feel about the fact that even then, he looks like he knows he's gonna be big someday. who looks that comfortable and engaging in a college photo shoot for a friend? even then, he was ok with having the focus on himself.

i wanted to believe some kind of "come-from-nowhere" biographical arc on obama. but more and more, i see that's not the case. just like with many other mega-stars in politics, it looks like he's been grooming himself for this for a long time. nothing accidental about it.
posted by CitizenD at 8:04 AM on December 17, 2008


i wanted to believe some kind of "come-from-nowhere" biographical arc on obama. but more and more, i see that's not the case. just like with many other mega-stars in politics, it looks like he's been grooming himself for this for a long time. nothing accidental about it.

Indeed. The sure fire way to become President of the United States has always been: do drugs in college, graduate from a college, mill around a bit, be a community organizer in Chicago, travel to Africa, get your law degree from Harvard, write an oddly revealing memoir, become a civil rights lawyer, and a professor, then a state senator, then luck into a Senate seat, then run for President after two years in the Senate. Clearly this was all planned long, long ago.
posted by billysumday at 8:15 AM on December 17, 2008 [13 favorites]


just like with many other mega-stars in politics, it looks like he's been grooming himself for this for a long time. nothing accidental about it.

It's not an accident that anyone runs for president. It is a bit of a historical fluke who wins though. Frankly I'd be worried if hadn't been grooming himself for this. The job is not one anyone should take on without long preparation. If you mean he's a career politician, well yeah, he is. I don't understand the "politicians are bad" mentality. Yeah, most of them suck. I get that part. But when did we decide that the best thing in a wannabe politician is faking not wanting to be a politician?
posted by Tehanu at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah. Not sure how extrovert immediately transforms into President.
posted by cavalier at 8:18 AM on December 17, 2008


The final nail in the coffin came 5 years later, when "You" was person of the year in 2006. How fucking lame was that?

I don't care. It looks great on my résumé.
posted by chillmost at 8:19 AM on December 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


The sure fire way to become President of the United States has always been: do drugs in college, graduate from a college, mill around a bit, be a community organizer in Chicago, travel to Africa, get your law degree from Harvard, write an oddly revealing memoir, become a civil rights lawyer, and a professor, then a state senator, then luck into a Senate seat, then run for President after two years in the Senate.

Hey, I did the first one of those things ...
posted by me & my monkey at 8:19 AM on December 17, 2008


CitizenD: "although, i gotta say: i don't know how to feel about the fact that even then, he looks like he knows he's gonna be big someday. who looks that comfortable and engaging in a college photo shoot for a friend?"

You are a silly person.

On another note, every time I read some article like this about Obama, all that hope makes me go all warm and fuzzy inside.
posted by TypographicalError at 8:22 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Not sure how extrovert immediately transforms into President.

And then insider transforms into Vice-President, and administrator transforms into Chief Of Staff, and then they all merge to form the mega-powerful Administracon.
posted by Shepherd at 8:23 AM on December 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


> i don't know how to feel about the fact that even then, he looks like he knows he's gonna be big someday.

Ask a grade school kid here what he or she wants to be when they grow up. The response is usually policeman, fireman, truck driver, race car driver, or President of the United States.

Some of them really mean it.
posted by ardgedee at 8:32 AM on December 17, 2008


i don't know how to feel about the fact that even then, he looks like he knows he's gonna be big someday. who looks that comfortable and engaging in a college photo shoot for a friend?

I, for one, won't be happy until I see college photographs of Obama weeping while masturbating, with Hudson's Adventure Island on pause in the background of the photo, just like the rest of us.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:36 AM on December 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


This award doesn't mean much anymore. I won it, you won it, everyone's won it sometime.
posted by rokusan at 8:43 AM on December 17, 2008


from "Song of Myself," #21

...I chant the chant of dilation or pride,
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough,
I show that size is only development.


Have you outstript the rest? are you the President?
posted by ronv at 8:43 AM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Aww, look who "mattered".
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:09 AM on December 17, 2008


i don't know how to feel about the fact that even then, he looks like he knows he's gonna be big someday. who looks that comfortable and engaging in a college photo shoot for a friend?

Not a friend. An "aspiring photographer" who he only saw a few times after that. It's 1980, they are in college, she picks him to be in her art shoot. He wasn't running for President in those pictures, he was running for Boyfriend. (Or One Night Stand...)
posted by DU at 9:22 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


who looks that comfortable and engaging in a college photo shoot for a friend?

Pretty much anyone who's not a 'spergin shut-in, I guess. There are a trillion photos on facebook/myspace whatever that demonstrate your claim is frankly weird as heck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:24 AM on December 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


This award doesn't mean much anymore. I won it, you won it, everyone's won it sometime.


Yeah, but now Obama won it twice!
posted by mannequito at 9:24 AM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


He wasn't running for President in those pictures, he was running for Boyfriend. (Or One Night Stand...)

Yeah. I was thinking as I looked at those that we're still as a nation unsure how to handle a president who's comfortable with sexiness. And I wondered if he was flirting with the photographer, because that vibe is there.
posted by Tehanu at 9:31 AM on December 17, 2008


From the article:

I was relieved to give my sister the good news: "Your boy is straight, and he can ball."

Quotes out of context are fun. I'm just sayin'.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:36 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who else was Time person of the year?

Yeah, well, I bet that guy couldn't celebrate with a cake from ShopRite.
posted by inigo2 at 9:48 AM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


i wanted to believe some kind of "come-from-nowhere" biographical arc on obama. but more and more, i see that's not the case. just like with many other mega-stars in politics, it looks like he's been grooming himself for this for a long time. nothing accidental about it.

He even made sure to fake his birth certificate when he was born!
posted by inigo2 at 9:49 AM on December 17, 2008


Come on guys, the man caled himself Barry at the time and you are surprized he looked sharp in a fedora and leather jacket?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:51 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shepherd: I prefer to think of the Obama administration as The Dream Team.

Also, there's something I really like about Michelle's brother's description of Obama playing basketball:

He handled everything perfectly. We played a hard five-on-five, so there were definitely potholes for him to fall into. He wasn't the best guy out there, but he wasn't the worst guy. I liked the fact that he was confident but wasn't cocky or talking trash. Barack was very team-oriented, very unselfish. He fit in like he was one of us — he wasn't trying to be president of the Harvard Law Review. But the best part about it was that when we were on the same team, he did not pass me the ball every single time. He wasn't trying to suck up to my sister through me. I thought, You know, I like that.
posted by inconsequentialist at 10:11 AM on December 17, 2008


Also nice pre-emptive tag attempt.
posted by rokusan at 10:15 AM on December 17, 2008


Yeah, but now Obama won it twice!

So did Stalin, and he died before the whole cheesy "you" stunt.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:15 AM on December 17, 2008


Dude, that is a fucking CHOICE 'fro

It's a sad state of affairs that out President-Elect can't keep his perfectly maintained Professional-Fro while campaigning.
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 AM on December 17, 2008


our! Our!

An out President-Elect would be even more ...interesting.
posted by The Whelk at 10:33 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was rooting for "Moms and Dads" this year, but Obama is not a bad choice.

I bet Obama has won the coveted #1 DAD award.

The sure fire way to become President of the United States has always been:

Your argument is self-defeating. Were you really writing this as things that are abnormal for future presidents to do?:

do drugs in college, - I believe the majority of presidents have done drugs; at least alcohol. Kennedy was shot full of amphetamines while in office. George W. Bush won't even come clean about anything besides alcohol that he was on back in the day.

graduate from a college, - Only 10 presidents have not graduated college, and all have since Truman.

mill around a bit, - OK ...?

be a community organizer in Chicago, - "Got involved in local politics."

travel to Africa, - Plenty of presidents traveled abroad, though I don't have the time right now to look up whether or not they specifically went to Africa.

get your law degree from Harvard, - Lawyer is very common occupation for presidents.

write an oddly revealing memoir, - You might have me here...

become a civil rights lawyer, - See above.

and a professor,
- At least Wilson and Taft were also professors.

then a state senator,
- "Moved up to state politics."

then luck into a Senate seat, - "And then federal politics."

then run for President after two years in the Senate.

Seriously, man graduated college, got involved in local politics, got a law degree, moved up the political ladder. Did he plan on being president when he was just getting involved? I don't know, but he's been going for a political career for much of his life.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:35 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, I want Obama to grow that 'fro back.

Of course, I also want him to give the Black Power salute upon inauguration and to enter to Chocolate City instead of Hail to the Chief.

(Why yes, I am white. But I try really hard!)
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was thinking as I looked at those that we're still as a nation unsure how to handle a president who's comfortable with sexiness.

It be fair, the Presidential Portrait Gallery is a fairly gruesome, stodgy spectacle with regards to teh sexy. Clinton had a kind of robust animalality that made the (many) ladies swoon. Kennedy had youth and Vigah! on his side. But then what? Wigs and funny beards aside, it's a pretty homely collection of statesmen. Only Jefferson would rate higher than 3 on a HotorNot test, and he would have been offended by such base sensuality.


While I consider Theodore Roosevelt to be a paragon of male beauty, not everyone agrees with me
posted by The Whelk at 10:44 AM on December 17, 2008


Obama has always been ambitious. It's not exactly like he has been preparing to be president all his life, but neither is it true that his candidacy is some crazy random happenstance pushed forward by the popular will. People seem to forget that in favor of projecting themselves onto him.

The newsweek articles made that clear to me, but I don't see it as a bad quality. Especially because Obama's ambition seems to be paired with good judgement and self discipline.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


He fit in like he was one of us. . .

He shall know your ways as if born to them.
posted by The Bellman at 10:48 AM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Only Jefferson would rate higher than 3 on a HotorNot test, and he would have been offended by such base sensuality.

Clearly you're forgetting one mister James K. Polk.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:48 AM on December 17, 2008


Ask a grade school kid here what he or she wants to be when they grow up. The response is usually policeman, fireman, truck driver, race car driver, or President of the United States. Some of them really mean it.

In second and third grade (in the 1970s), most of the guys wanted to be "Playboy photographer"... they meant it too.
posted by crapmatic at 11:48 AM on December 17, 2008


he would have been offended by such base sensuality

Cos Jefferson was clearly the master of his libido.
posted by absalom at 11:53 AM on December 17, 2008


Indeed. The sure fire way to become President of the United States has always been: do drugs in college, graduate from a college, mill around a bit, be a community organizer in Chicago, travel to Africa, get your law degree from Harvard, write an oddly revealing memoir, become a civil rights lawyer, and a professor, then a state senator, then luck into a Senate seat, then run for President after two years in the Senate. Clearly this was all planned long, long ago.
It is referred to in short as the "Taft Plan".
posted by boo_radley at 12:33 PM on December 17, 2008


I've often heard that Franklin Pierce was our most handsome president. He was even known as "Handsome Frank."
posted by marxchivist at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2008


So...you think he’s going to frame the cover?

Like on the White House fireplace mantle, when people come over, like Horst Köhler, Sarkozy, Medvedev etc. come by and he’s showing them “and here’s where I was Time’s Man of the Year” and they go “Oh, how nice, yes.” And they’re all impressed.

And he’s got one of those “World’s Greatest Dad” trophies there that his daughters gave to him on Fathers Day one year and they all smile at how cute that is.

Then he’s got one of those corn flakes boxes you can get with your picture on it next to that.
“That’s me and Michelle, we took that when we were in Battle Creek, Michigan at the Kellogg factory”

And Sarkozy flips out and grabs it “They can do such a thing!?” he says all excited and winds up crushing the box because he’s such a putz.

And there’s corn flakes all over the carpet. So a couple secret service guys come in with a vaccum cleaner, one guy on the floor vaccuming while the other guy looks around touching his ear bud.

And they go out to play b-ball but Sarkozy won’t pass and they all decide to ditch him by the library of congress.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:35 PM on December 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


There's a roll out there of a photo shoot I did in college. I know it's still out there, because I have to pay a couple of hundred dollars every few months to keep it from being published anywhere.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:39 PM on December 17, 2008


Jefferson? Offended by base sensuality? No way.
posted by Miko at 12:42 PM on December 17, 2008


It pleases me that Time actually asked Shepard Fairey to do the cover.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:44 PM on December 17, 2008


I've often heard that Franklin Pierce was our most handsome president. He was even known as "Handsome Frank."

He looks like someone who suspects all of this is an elaborate practical joke.
posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow. Franklin Pierce's Wikipedia biography is riveting.
posted by Tehanu at 1:01 PM on December 17, 2008


Pierce chose to "affirm" his oath of office rather than swear it, becoming the first president to do so (the only other, so far, has been Herbert Hoover)

badass.

also, I'd tap it.
posted by saul wright at 1:24 PM on December 17, 2008


I'm not so impressed by Barry's college-era pics. He is so obviously coming on to the photographer, that hat is the kind of style error that most of my hats are, and some of the pics make him look like the Lost Sixth Jackson (something more than a little Tito-esque to me).

And I get the feeling Shepard Fairey is going to be stereotyped for the rest of his life for doing "Obama-style" portraits. Maybe if he did something in green and brown instead of blue and red...

As for the Person of the Year selection, at least getting that the year he was elected will take the pressure off of him to earn it during his first term. The dude's got enough pressure on him.

And as for his background, I see him as a man who was slowly building his resume (or else he'd have jumped into elected politics earlier... or maybe that was a well-justified fear of the Chicago Political Machine), suddenly got catapulted into the Big Leagues (with a lot of unintentional help from Jack Ryan and Alan Keyes), picked up the ball and ran with it (or dribbled it downcourt and executed a perfect layup). The Double-Zero Decade will probably end early, hallelujah.
posted by wendell at 1:25 PM on December 17, 2008


For all that no one is surprised, and even snide in their accusations of fanboy-ism, that article accompanying the selection was most excellent. It's been a while since I was interestedin something that Time wrote to sit through all 6 (or however many) pages.
posted by Phire at 2:01 PM on December 17, 2008


On the same day he announced he's picked Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation. Wow.
posted by Tehanu at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2008


Tehanu writes "On the same day he announced he's picked Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation. Wow."

Yeah, way to end the honeymoon before the wedding ceremony even starts.
posted by mullingitover at 2:43 PM on December 17, 2008


There's really no more elegant way to say "fuck you" than ushering in your term by asking the blessing of a man who vocally and adamantly supported the legislation that stripped away rights that many of your supporters could've fought harder to keep if they hadn't been fighting so damn hard to get you elected.

I'm so tired of being the open target that one side of the aisle demonizes to excite its base and the doormat the other side quietly wipes its feet on at its own convenience.
posted by Tehanu at 3:14 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


It pleases me that Time actually asked Shepard Fairey to do the cover.

That's both brilliant and correct, considering that Fairey is pretty much responsible for the iconification of Obama.

In sadder news, Obama just chose Vilsack for Ag Secretary, which isn't great unless you believe we should be turning all our grain into car fuel just as we're on the cusp of a global food shortage.
posted by rokusan at 5:27 PM on December 17, 2008


And I get the feeling Shepard Fairey is going to be stereotyped for the rest of his life for doing "Obama-style" portraits.

I meant to vote for Obama, but I ended up voting for Andre the Giant.
posted by rokusan at 5:35 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


While I consider Theodore Roosevelt to be a paragon of male beauty, not everyone agrees with me
posted by The Whelk at 10:44 AM on December 17 [+] [!]


Is it safe to assume that asavage's noted co-worker has also obtained a metafilter account?
posted by stet at 5:46 PM on December 17, 2008


although, i gotta say: i don't know how to feel about the fact that even then, he looks like he knows he's gonna be big someday. who looks that comfortable and engaging in a college photo shoot for a friend? even then, he was ok with having the focus on himself.

You can't be serious. If you took photos of me, they would look similar, so would pictures of lots of people. Probably a good percentage of the population enjoys attention and being photographed and is charismatic and engaging. Probably almost everyone who ends up going into politics has those traits, not to mention half the people on myspace (as someone pointed out)
posted by delmoi at 10:18 PM on December 17, 2008


I'm really mad that Time pulled that "You" stunt in 2006. It put a serious crimp in the novelty magazine cover business. Outlets at county fairs and mall kiosks all over have had to push the old standards, like the "Playmate Of The Year" and "Sexiest Man Alive" covers, though everybody's got at least three of those now somewhere.

Desperate personalization businesses have clung on to solvency by writing your name in as the "Reader" of a copy of "Reader's Digest", but the most obvious sign that this industry is in a steep decline is the wholesale lifting of the objectionable words ban, resulting in scads of magazine covers heralding "FART INCORPORATED" as topping the Forbes 500 list.
posted by Spatch at 7:56 AM on December 18, 2008


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