Blessed are those who wait. Every year it happens. As the calendar winds down, there are always some who feels an urgent need to race out ahead of the pack in giving out end of the year awards. Thus Sports Illustrated named its Sportsmen of the Year for 2004 sometime around Thanksgiving. And such sportsmen! The lowly Boston Red Sox, of all critters, apparently because they once again finished second in the American League's Eastern Division, behind the almighty New York Yankees. The injustice of a team winning baseball's championship when it should not have even been eligible to play in the World Series we'll leave to future generations to rectify. The Bambino's Curse still has some spittle left in it, you'll see.
Not long after SI jumped the gun, Time ragazine followed suit by announcing George W. Bush as its Person of the Year. It did so with great reluctance, deep disappointment, profound indignation, and pained personal outrage -- the exact sentiments with which readers and mature Americans reacted to news of the announcement. To add insult to its injured journalistic standards, Time's premature call left it unprepared to settle on someone more to its liking. For instance, Ukraine's anti-victor Viktor Yanukovych, or his handler Vladimir Putin, who if he were a bigger man could easily be mistaken for a rat. Indeed, word at the Bolshoi is that Putin got his start playing Tchaikovsky's Rat King in The Nutcracker.
Final proof that patience is its own reward comes to us in the person of U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland. Back when Time and SI were playing the big shot Mr. Egeland was not even a zero in a zero-sum game. But given the right opportunity he emerged as the world's conscience and a leading candidate for our big prize. With one deft observation -- Bush America is "stingy" -- he captured what everyone knew. Just like that he became the new Mandela, the new Cronkite, the new Bill Moyers. He comes well-qualified. According to an anonymous tipster, Egeland not only holds a Magister Artrium in Political Science from the University of Oslo. But "he has been a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley." And "a fellow at the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, and the Truman Institute for the Advancement for Peace, Jerusalem," which is in Palestine, in case you were wondering how to contextualize that bit of news.
Perhaps too late for this year, but we have not seen the end of recriminations in the wake of the tragedy in the Asian subcontinent. It was reprehensible enough that President Bush did not display appropriate public sorrow in response. (Was this any way for a Time's persona to show gratitude?) But what about other aspects of U.S. policy that could be behind the earthquake that set off destructive tsunamis? The New York Times informs us that the past year was one of "unusual seismic ferocity." Clearly, something is causing all those cracks in the earth's tectonic plates. We need to look no further than our kitchens, dining rooms, and restaurants to divine where the problem lies. We are the heaviest nation in the history of the world. How much extra weight can the earth be expected to bear?
America is going to have to trim its roster. In our many years of civic action, Enemy Central has gone beyond the call of duty to accelerate the process. But the more worthies we eliminate, the more they multiply. We'll ponder the paradox later. Time is running short. Midnight on Times Square beckons. Many a menace has already been neutralized. We think. Anyone, for instance, seen John F. Kerry lately? Check your duck blind. Or the forest where deer once rambled. He could be in there, crawling on all fours, in camouflage, ready to fire his big bertha at anything still twitching. He obviously expects to windsurf again in 2008. We shall see.
We could go on in this vein, but let's not beat around the outback any more than we need to. Hunter Kerry didn't set the tone this past year. He was merely the tool of a much weightier cause, one that attempted to reduce American politics to slobs shenanigans. And we know who the chief heavy was. Sorry, Michael Moore, but you've left us no alternative. Think of your EOY prize in progressive terms. Our good earth will breathe easier if you float away.