US President Barack Obama has been named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year for 2012, allowing him the honor for the second time in four years.
TIME magazine cited Barack Obama’s historic re-election last month as symbolic of the nation’s changing demographics amid the backdrop of high unemployment and other challenges.
“He’s basically the beneficiary and the author of a kind of new America – a new demographic, a new cultural America that he is now the symbol of,” TIME editor Rick Stengel said as he announced the choice on the Today show on Wednesday.
“He won re-election despite a higher unemployment rate than anybody’s had to face in basically 70 years. He’s the first Democrat to actually win two consecutive terms with over 50 per cent of the vote. That’s something we haven’t seen since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”
The “Person of the Year” accolade is given to the person or thing that has most influenced the culture and news throughout the year for good or for ill.
Barack Obama was named as Person of the Year in 2008, with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and The Protester filling the years in between.
This year, Barack Obama edged out Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education, for the honor. She was named as runner up.
“Since October her message has been heard around the world, from cramped classrooms where girls scratch out lessons in the dirt to the halls of the U.N. and national governments and NGOs, where legions of activists argue ever more vehemently that the key to raising living standards throughout the developing world is the empowerment of women and girls,” TIME wrote in a profile.
Other finalists included Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Higgs boson physicist Fabiola Gianotti.
In its latest edition and cover story, TIME explained its decision to name Barack Obama as the winner.
“We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Barack Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America,” the editors wrote.
“In 2012, he found and forged a new majority, turned weakness into opportunity and sought, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union.”
In a cover story, TIME‘s White House correspondent Michael Scherer explained the “Obama effect”.
“It could be measured – in wars stopped and started; industries saved, restructured or reregulated; tax cuts extended; debt levels inflated; terrorists killed; the health-insurance system reimagined; and gay service members who could walk in uniform with their partners,” he wrote.
Michael Scherer added that after this year’s election, Barack Obama started working on a “40,000-foot” list of issues to tackle in his second term in the White House.
The list included climate change, the soaring cost of college, electoral reform and prison reform.
Michael Scherer also spoke about his personal attributes – and how Republicans struggled to be negative against him.
“There was almost nothing that would stick to this guy, because they just liked him personally,” Mitt Romney deputy campaign manager Katie Packer Gage told the magazine.