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ESR's Ninth Annual Person of the Year
By Steven Martinovich
I have to admit that when I opened the call for votes and nominations for our Ninth Annual Person of the Year, I expected George W. Bush to win in a romp. When he won the 2003 Person of the Year Award he received 58 per cent of the vote -- but considering his win this past November, I thought it was a forgone conclusion that he would smash that mark and win an unprecedented fourth straight award quite easily.
He won...but it wasn't a romp. In fact, he squeezed out a victory almost as narrow as his re-election win.
This year the Canadians decided to flex their muscle and vote for the northern version of our 2000 winner, Jim Robinson of Free Republic. A ton of votes poured in for Connie Wilkins and Mark Fournier of Free Dominion. Wilkins and Fournier are having a tremendous impact on Canadian conservatism, creating a grassroots community that like its American cousin is bringing together people from across the country to debate and act. Remember those pro-Bush protests when the American president visited Canada late last year? You can thank Connie, Mark and the Canadians of Free Dominion.
It was Bush, however, who won this race with 39 per cent of the ballots cast, edging out the 27 per cent that went to Connie and Mark. The rest of the votes went to a panoply of candidates that included the American soldier/Pat Tillman -- the second year in a row they placed third -- actor/director Mel Gibson, Donald Rumsfeld and John O'Neil of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. We even had some votes for people like Dan Rather and Michael Moore -- the last two snidely voted for thanks to their contributions to the conservative cause. Also among the vote getters was Buckhead of Free Republic, the chap who helped reveal the truth about the faked Air National Guard documents that CBS used for their hit piece on Bush before the election.
"President Bush has battled terrorism and other evils in the world, protected capitalism (for the most part), upheld American sovereignty, upheld traditional American values, and has supported and spread the ideology of individual liberty and responsibility more than anyone. Today's world would be in truly sorry shape if it wasn't for our great commander in chief."
"61 million reasons."
-- Voter comments in support of Bush's Person of the Year Award
In support of their choice, Bush supporters tended to emphasize his traditional morality and his re-election in November. That's hardly surprising if you have even only a passing familiarity with the famous red/blue map. As some have pointed out, however, that map doesn't show red states vs. blue states, it shows America's heartland against the elite media centres. Not that we here at ESR believe that the blue sections of the map are centres of immorality -- they are filled with Americans -- but it's hard to argue that the red on the map doesn't represent the heart of traditional Americana. More striking, however, is how Bush decided to run his re-election campaign and target that heartland.
As Time Magazine pointed out in their story that declared Bush Person of the Year, "For candidates, getting elected is the test that counts. Ronald Reagan did it by keeping things vague: It's Morning in America. Bill Clinton did it by keeping things small, running in peaceful times on school uniforms and V chips. Bush ran big and bold and specific all at the same time, rivaling Reagan in breadth of vision and Clinton in tactical ingenuity. He surpassed both men in winning bigger majorities in Congress and the statehouses. And he did it all while conducting an increasingly unpopular war, with an economy on tiptoes and a public conflicted about many issues but most of all about him."
There has been plenty of bad news for Bush in 2004 but there were some real bright spots as well.The fruits of the first war that 9/11 spawned resulted in democratic elections in Afghanistan. Despite continuing violence in Iraq, the reconstruction continues to proceed and elections will soon be held there. The American economy continued to gain strength. It seemed just enough to garner him those 61 million votes.
And his fourth consecutive Person of the Year Award. To repeat ourselves for the fourth straight year, how could this award go to anyone else?
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