Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 7:06 AM

Vladimir Putin: TIME’s Person of the Year

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

In the decade or so since I’ve been trying to guess TIME’s Person of the Year, this is the first time they’ve chosen the person who I thought was most worthy of recognition, namely, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And never mind that they chose him as much for being a megalomaniac who seems determined to rule Russia as either a latter-day Czar or a neo-Stalinist dictator; as for imposing order and stability in a Russia that was slipping into apocalyptic chaos.

After all, Adolf Hitler was chosen in 1938, and Joseph Stalin in 1939 and 1942 for very similar reasons. Moreover, having read their essay Why we chose Putin, it is clear that they intended his selection to be, at best, a back-handed compliment:

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… Putin is not a boy scout….He stands, above all [even at 5’3”- he, he, he], for stability – stability before freedom, stability before choice…. 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.

Hear, hear. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Putin will regard TIME’s dubious recognition as indisputable vindication of his iron-fisted rule and a celebration of the cult of personality he enjoys at home and abroad. And who can blame him – especially when he can look down on Nobel Laureate Al Gore as his runner-up…?

So, congratulations…Czar Putin!

Related Articles:
Putin’s master plan to rule Russia for life
Al Gore wins Nobel Prize

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