posted at 8:31 am on December 7, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
Come on, man. Who else would have been chosen in the Year of the Populist? Time Magazine named Donald Trump its Person of the Year after his surprise win in the presidential election, a result that confounded most analysts on Election Night, and still confounds many of them to this day.
Guess who came in second? No fair peeking:
Had Hillary Clinton managed to win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan in the way that Trump did, there’s no doubt that Time would have bestowed this honor on her. Would they have subtitled her “President of the Divided States of America”? Almost certainly not, even though it would have applied just as well to Hillary; they would have probably used a “glass ceiling” reference instead.
The accompanying article, also written by editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs plows through some of the same clichés as the video. That’s not really Gibbs’ fault, as these honorifics mainly serve as collections of clichés and platitudes. This one’s long on the former and short on the latter:
It’s hard to measure the scale of his disruption. This real estate baron and casino owner turned reality-TV star and provocateur—never a day spent in public office, never a debt owed to any interest besides his own—now surveys the smoking ruin of a vast political edifice that once housed parties, pundits, donors, pollsters, all those who did not see him coming or take him seriously. Out of this reckoning, Trump is poised to preside, for better or worse.
For those who believe this is all for the better, Trump’s victory represents a long-overdue rebuke to an entrenched and arrogant governing class; for those who see it as for the worse, the destruction extends to cherished norms of civility and discourse, a politics poisoned by vile streams of racism, sexism, nativism. To his believers, he delivers change—broad, deep, historic change, not modest measures doled out in Dixie cups; to his detractors, he inspires fear both for what he may do and what may be done in his name.
The revolution he stirred feels fully American, with its echoes of populists past, of Andrew Jackson and Huey Long and, at its most sinister, Joe McCarthy and Charles Coughlin. Trump’s assault on truth and logic, far from hurting him, made him stronger. His appeal—part hope, part snarl—dissolved party lines and dispatched the two reigning dynasties of U.S. politics. Yet his victory mirrors the ascent of nationalists across the world, from Britain to the Philippines, and taps forces far more powerful than one man’s message.
We can scarcely grasp what our generation has wrought by putting a supercomputer into all of our hands, all of the time. If you are reading this, whether on a page or a screen, there is a very good chance that you are caught up in a revolution that may have started with enticing gadgets but has now reshaped everything about how we live, love, work, play, shop, share—how our very hearts and minds encounter the world around us. Why would we have imagined that our national conversation would simply go on as before, same people, same promises, same patterns? Perhaps the President-elect will stop tweeting—but only because he will have found some other means to tell the story he wants to tell directly to the audience that wants to hear it.
Hillary Clinton gets a lot more platitudes along with the clichés. Amazingly, while Gibbs makes reference to Trump’s “assault on truth and logic,” not once in Charlotte Alter’s explanation of Hillary’s runner-up status does she use the word “lie,” “honest,” “corrupt,” or “trust” — the character issues that torpedoed Hillary’s presidential run. Instead, this is the closest we get:
Long before she ever ran for office, Clinton built up a sturdy shield. Decades of attacks on her looks, her judgment, her marriage and her motivations left Clinton reflexively contained and guarded. But armor both insulates and obscures, and those self-protective traits may have led to some of her most damning mistakes, like the creation of a private email server and her fumbling rationale for it.
Those weren’t mistakes; they were crimes, as even James Comey admitted in his July report on the exposure of classified information through the e-mail system. And Hillary didn’t provide just “fumbling rationales”; she lied about her use of the e-mail system and the classified information that got transmitted through it, repeatedly throughout the campaign. Alter never even mentions the Clinton Foundation and the pay-for-play allegations that dogged the campaign, nor the fact that she and Bill somehow managed to earn $57.5 million in personal income during the four years she served as Secretary of State.
Instead, Alter spends the entire essay talking about — wait for it — Hillary’s gender. “Like an American Moses, she was an imperfect prophet, leading women to the edge of the Promised Land,” Alter concludes. It’s precisely this kind of obsequious “coverage” that has Americans distrusting the press, and it’s a brief taste of what we could have expected over the next four years had Hillary bothered to pay attention to Middle America over the last year or so.
Trump, for his part, offered a gracious thanks for the honor. He’d better not bank on getting too many more like it from the media.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) December 7, 2016