Here’s a news bite that could have written itself a few weeks, if not months, ago: Barack Obama is Time’s 2008 Person of the Year. Even the magazine’s editorial staff members knew that the choice would hardly shock anyone, but they allowed themselves to be swept along by the tides of history—or perhaps inevitability.
And what’s with the rumor that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was going to make the cover?
It’s unlikely that you were surprised to see Obama’s face on the cover. He has come to dominate the public sphere so completely that it beggars belief to recall that half the people in America had never heard of him two years ago — that even his campaign manager, at the outset, wasn’t sure Obama had what it would take to win the election. He hit the American scene like a thunderclap, upended our politics, shattered decades of conventional wisdom and overcame centuries of the social pecking order. Understandably, you may be thinking Obama is on the cover for these big and flashy reasons: for ushering the country across a momentous symbolic line, for infusing our democracy with a new intensity of participation, for showing the world and ourselves that our most cherished myth — the one about boundless opportunity — has plenty of juice left in it.