Our person of the year in global village — Barack Obama .. and in our own backyard, Kathleen Wynne

Dec 31st, 2014 | By | Category: In Brief

Time magazine named eight final candidates for its 2014 Person of the Year designation : acting Iraqi Kurdish Region president Masoud Barzani  ; first openly gay Fortune 500 CEO Tim Cook ; the Ebola caregivers ; the Ferguson protesters ; controversial National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell ; Chinese e-commerce giant founder Jack Ma ; controversial Russian president Vladimir Putin ; and  top-selling pop musician Taylor Swift.

From this group Time ultimately chose the Ebola caregivers — “still fighting the biggest Ebola outbreak in history” that has “so far taken the lives of nearly 7,000 people in West Africa.”

We of course don’t have the resources that Time has for drawing up and pondering such annual designations in depth. And not everyone will think our choice for 2014 person of the year in the global village is reasonable. But to us it is a no brainer. The obvious and altogether unambiguous stand-up candidate in our collective corporate mind is US President Barack Obama.

As just a few of many, many pieces of evidence for this no-brainer choice we’d point to : “Obama Unbound” ; “Obama, the Least Lame President?” ; “Tidings of Comfort” ; and “Sony ‘made a mistake’ axing The Interview, Obama says.”

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American actress Bridget Fonda as British playgirl Mandy Rice-Davies in 1989 movie Scandal. The real Ms Rice-Davies, who finally complained that “My life has been one long descent into respectability,” passed away on December 18, 2014, at the age of 70.

A few sentences from “Tidings of Comfort” (by Paul Krugman in the New York Times, on Christmas Day) suggest at least a few of the relevant details : “You’ll never hear this on Fox News, but 2014 was a year in which the [US] federal government, in particular, showed that it can do some important things very well if it wants to  …  over the past year, a U.S. government subjected to constant bad-mouthing, constantly accused of being ineffectual or worse, has, in fact, managed to accomplish a lot. On multiple fronts, government wasn’t the problem; it was the solution. Nobody knows it, but 2014 was the year of ‘Yes, we can.’”

Some more presidentially focused remarks in Timothy Egan’s somewhat earlier New York Times Piece, “Obama Unbound,” personalize the argument : “Remember when Mitt Romney promised to bring unemployment down to 6 percent by the end of his first term? Obama has done him one better: two years ahead of schedule, unemployment is 5.8 percent … Remember, also, the man-crush that Republicans had on Vladimir Putin? … Obama the plodder was getting played by Putin the Great. Now, the Russian president better keep his shirt on … Obama’s trademark caution in a crisis still serves him well. He kept his head during the Ebola meltdown when everyone else was losing theirs … in finally learning how to use the tools of his office, Obama unbound is a president primed to make his mark.”

Distinguished British actress Billie Whitelaw in the 1950s. Ms Whitelaw passed away at a nursing home in London on December 21, 2014, at the age of 82.

Of course, you can say what about the crushing blow Republicans thrust upon the Obama presidency in this past November’s mid-term congressional elections? Time will tell just what happens here, of course as well. But views like those of Timothy Egan and Paul Krugman are already taking the November 2014 mid-term elections into account.

(And, much more modestly, somewhat similar things might be said about our own Randall White’s two pieces on this site following the November mid-terms : “US midterm elections 2014, I : what can Barack Obama possibly do?” and “US midterm elections 2014, II : “Our Conservative, Criminal Politicians” .. new moods in Washington, DC ??”)

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Meanwhile, back in our own backyard, just north of the North American Great Lakes, we are choosing someone who at least strikes us as vaguely similar for our local person of the year 2014 — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Premier Wynne and President Obama are both “progressive,” of course, whatever that may exactly mean nowadays. In 2014 they also seem to have both been subject to criticism from both enemies and friends, among fellow politicians but frequently in the media as well.

Premier Kathleen Wynne with Hillary Clinton in Toronto, June 16, 2014. According to the Toronto Sun headline : “Clinton’s praise of Wynne absurd.”

One case in point for Premier Wynne is the CBC News website pundit Robert Fisher’s quite critical “Premier Kathleen Wynne’s other side …  Now that she has a majority government, Ontario is seeing a different Kathleen Wynne.”

Matt Galloway’s year-end CBC News interview with Premier Wynne — “Kathleen Wynne talks public trust, Pan Am Games in year-end interview” — also seems to us to treat the premier with rather less respect than we would treat someone who has won a majority government in a free and fair election. And, not unlike Mr. Fisher’s written indictment, the critical attitude here seems to owe more to gossip and largely mindless rhetoric exchanged among journalists and opposition politicians, than to any clear-headed assessment of what the Wynne government has and has not accomplished for the people of Ontario this past year.

Kathleen Wynne with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard , at the premier's office in Quebec City, August 21, 2014.

At the same time, “Kathleen Wynne — First female premier of Ontario, and the first openly gay head of government in Canada” did make CNN’s “longlist” of “outstanding women” in 2014.

And we continue to believe that she is doing interesting things — and trying with some success to create a fresh approach to the arts and crafts of democratic politics in our time. (She does of course remain a politician, as opposed to some kind of other worldly, quasi-religious figure. But that does not upset us — nor we think anywhere near as many ordinary voters as many journalists and pundits sometimes seem to think.) We’re hoping for an even better 2015 in Canada’s most populous province too!

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