- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 2004

NEW YORK — President Bush was chosen as Time’s “Person of the Year” for 2004, with the magazine saying it honored him a second time for winning re-election and for “reshaping the rules of politics to fit his 10-gallon-hat leadership style.”

The magazine’s editors tapped Mr. Bush “for sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes — and ours — on his faith in the power of leadership.”

Time’s 2004 Person of the Year package, on newsstands today, includes an Oval Office interview with Mr. Bush, an interview with his father, former President George Bush, and a profile of chief political adviser Karl Rove.

In his interview with the magazine, Mr. Bush attributed his victory over Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry to his foreign policy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The election was about the use of American influence,” Mr. Bush said.

After a grueling campaign, Mr. Bush remains a polarizing figure in America and across the world, and that is part of the reason he earned the magazine’s honor, said Managing Editor Jim Kelly.

“Many, many Americans deeply wish he had not won,” Mr. Kelly said in a telephone interview. “And yet he did.”

In the Time article, Mr. Bush said he relishes that some people dislike him.

“I think the natural instinct for most people in the political world is that they want people to like them,” he said. “On the other hand, I think sometimes I take kind of a delight in who the critics are.”

Mr. Bush joins six presidents who have twice won the magazine’s top honor: Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower (first as a general), Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Franklin Delano Roosevelt holds the record with three nods.

Mr. Kelly said Mr. Bush has changed sharply since he was named Person of the Year in 2000 after he won the presidency.

“He is not the same man,” Mr. Kelly said. “He’s a much more resolute man. He is personally as charming as ever, but I think the kind of face he has shown to the American public is one of much, much greater determination.”

The magazine gives the honor to the person who made the greatest impact, good or bad, during the year.

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” how Mr. Bush reacted when he learned of Time’s decision, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. said the president was “not worried about what pundits might be saying.”

Mr. Card praised Mr. Bush as a “great liberator” for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq and lauded his tax cuts, education and Medicare reform packages, and plans to remake Social Security.

“So I think he’s got the right ingredients to be recognized as the Person of the Year,” Mr. Card said.

Mr. Kelly said other candidates included filmmakers Michael Moore and Mel Gibson, “because in different ways their movies tapped into deep cultural streams,” and Mr. Rove, who is widely credited with engineering Mr. Bush’s win.

Mr. Kelly said choosing Mr. Rove alone would have taken away from the credit Mr. Bush deserves.

This is the first time an individual has won the award since 2001, when New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani was celebrated for his response to the September 11 attacks.

The American soldier earned the honor last year. In 2002, the magazine tapped three “whistleblowers” — Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who wrote a critical memo on FBI intelligence failures, Sherron Watkins and Cynthia Cooper, who helped uncover financial misdeeds at Enron and Worldcom, respectively.

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