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ESR's Eighth Annual Person of the Year
By Steven Martinovich
I don't think one would be exaggerating to call 2003 the year of the personalities. It was the year that saw an actor elected the governor of California, a ruthless dictator deposed by a coalition of the willing, a president who took a nation to war for the second time during his presidency and a millionaire hotel heiress starring in a reality television show and an amateur sex tape.
Paris Hilton didn't get any votes to be considered a candidate in our quest for ESR's Eighth Annual Person of the Year but Arnold Schwarzenegger and Saddam Hussein, among others, did. Schwarzenegger's fame and Hussein's infamy weren't enough, however, to stop U.S. President George W. Bush from making minor history by winning our award for a third straight year. In fact, Bush received 58 per cent of the vote, the largest margin of victory since we opened the award up to readers vote in 1998. Trailing in second spot was Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. while third went to the real heroes of 2003, the American soldier. Hussein even received a solitary nod with the voter explaining, "The entire thrust of world affairs in 2003 revolved around this man. He certainly was the major impetus propelling American foreign policy. And after all, you said 'biggest impact,' not best person."
Perhaps, it was Bush who captured the hearts and minds of our readers. A casual look through the ballots reveals that many of you lauded America's president for the same reasons. One reader wrote, arguing what many others did, that Bush deserved the award "because of his steadfast resolve, his moral compass, his love for America and our military, his family values and for being a true patriot in the face of so much anti-Americanism. History will show him to be one of the greatest presidents America has ever had." Another wrote, "I believe there is no explanation needed."
It's been a heck of a year for Bush. Last year opened with a weak economy, the scandals of Enron and Global Crossing still in the minds of Americans, a continuing war against terrorism, fearsome attacks by his ideological opponents and a press determined to paint any development in the worst light possible. Even with a relatively bloodless war in Iraq and a massive victory, Bush's numbers trended downwards during the summer. Despite that, Bush stuck with his core message and his agenda has begun to pay dividends. He enters this new year the undisputed king of the American political scene, improved numbers, and, as a recent op-ed piece proclaimed, the 2004 election is his to loose.
Arguably his agenda hasn't endeared him to some conservatives but you can't dismiss his success and achievements during 2003. Bush continues to outmaneuver his opponents -- both domestic and international -- almost effortlessly and forces them to react to his moves. For the third straight year Bush is ESR's Person of the Year and for the third straight year we ask, How could this award go to anyone else? You apparently agreed.
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