Bloggers react to Time's pick of Vladimir Putin as its "Person of the Year." Also, did John Edwards sire a love child with a former campaign video producer?
Year of Vladimir: "Of course we treat it as an acknowledgment of the role that was played by President Putin in helping to pull Russia out of the economic and social troubles of the '90s and in restoring national pride in this country." That was Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, on Time's decision to name Vladimir Putin its "Person of the Year." (Extensive Q&A with him here.) The magazine went out of its way to distance this accolade from an endorsement, noting that previous recipients have including Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Nevertheless, in a mostly polite—if not fawning—profile of the Russian president, all that was revealed about him, conclude many bloggers, was that he has pretty blue eyes.
Jeff Bercovici at Portfolio's Mixed Media blog "love[s] this pick. It's news-driven, hyper-relevant and concrete rather than mushy and consumer-driven, like last year's 'You,' or heart-warming, like 2005's 'The Good Samaritans.' And it dusts off the long-disused tradition of recognizing the year's biggest bad guy as its top newsmaker. Not since 1979 has a dictator been POY." (Ayatollah Khomeini, in case you were wondering.) Jane Roh at National Journal's Gate agrees that Time got it right this year: "Russia may pose the greatest foreign policy challenge to the United States in the years ahead. Problematically, Moscow seems well aware of this. We've already seen it in our dealings with Iran. Putin seems intent on challenging the hegemony of U.S./Western influence around the globe, and he has been successful in ways that we may already be feeling at home. The U.S. and Britain in particular have been somewhat chastened by their failures in Iraq, which hasn't help their side in this growing rivalry."
Lawhawk at A Blog for All thinks Putin was the "practically obvious" choice: "As for this being his most successful year yet, if you count setting events in motion that will enable Putin to pull strings of Russian politics for years to come by all but annointing his successor and putting himself in a position to govern as Prime Minister, then I'd call that quite successful. If you think that trying to reduce global conflicts and enhancing Russian security are goals, then he was less than successful."
Conservative Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters quibbles: "Putin isn't necessarily a bad choice, but if Time wanted to show that it leads the analytical pack, he should have been chosen last year. … It could have been worse. Al Gore came in second, almost confirming most predictions about the selection. David Petraeus, who singlehandedly changed national and international politics by reversing the disintegration of Iraq, placed fifth."
Republican Kevin Tracy is pleased. Seriously. "There is no doubt in my mind that President Putin is one of the most bright and intelligent leaders on the face of the planet," he writes. "Now in the last year of his Presidency, Putin deserves this recognition."
But Uncle Jimbo at the milblog Black Five is breathless in his condemnation of Time, with its description of Putin's "cool" blue eyes: "There is another, more accurate description of Putin's eyes, he is a cold-blooded, steely-eyed killer. … Putin has presided over the looting of every item of value or industry in Russia, he kills his political opponents and journalists as well you fool. He is a criminal totalitarian who would leave Joe Stalin gasping in admiration at his audacity. He just crowned his successor who promptly named him Prime Minister, really there's a shocker."
Read more about Time's Person of the Year.
Johnny be bad: It's an old rumor that John Edwards supposedly had an affair with Rielle Hunter, a woman hired to produce videos for his campaign. But now the National Enquirer—yes, the National Enquirer—has a story saying that Hunter is six months pregnant with Edwards' baby. Hunter herself denies the allegation, saying the father of her child is a man called Andrew Young, an official on the Edwards campaign. Cover-up or not?
"Anyone who is surprised at this is an abject fool. Everyone in North Carolina knows Edwards can't keep 'Little John' in his pants," says Mo at Morons in Chapel Hill.
Politico's Ben Smith helpfully pointed out when the affair rumors began that: "What the tabloid's readers, in politics and out, may not know is that a key owner of the Enquirer is a prominent New York investment banker and one of Hillary Clinton's key backers, Roger Altman. Altman was an official in the first Clinton administration, and his name is often mentioned as a possible Clinton Treasury Secretary." Not so fast, saysSlate's own Mickey Kaus: "There's no reason to conclude this story was planted by one campaign or another. I'm familiar with how the initial Rielle Hunter/Edwards rumors, true or not, got to at least one news outlet–and no campaigns, Dem or GOP, were involved. It was a story going around–I'd been hearing it for months. Not all rumors are plants. And some are true. Even in the Enquirer."
"To me Edwards deserves the benefit of the doubt unless he admits to the conduct, or if there is a DNA test," submits Bull Dog Pundit of Ankle Biting Pundits. "A few months ago, he denied having the affair, and no one has proven he was lying. I can't imagine what it must be like to have to tell your kids about these things especially when there's no proof of anything and 'sources' who remain nameless make the charges."
Read more about the Edwards scandal.