Time names Obama its Person of the Year

Find out why the magazine chose the president, and learn more about the four runners-up.


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President Obama is the 2012 Person of the Year, says Time magazine.

“We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America,” explains Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel.

That America is shaped by “young people, minorities, Hispanics, college-educated women,” who, Obama showed, “are not only the future but also the present,” Stengel writes.

Obama, he says, is more of a cultural figure than a political one. “He is the first president to embrace gay marriage and to offer work permits to many young undocumented immigrants.”

He’s also the “first Democratic president since FDR to win more than 50 percent of the vote in consecutive elections and the first president since 1940 to win re-election with an unemployment rate north of 7.5 percent.”

Runners-up for Person of the Year were:

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban on Oct. 9 as she sat on the school bus on her way home. Yousafzai has become a symbol for Pakistani girls’ right to an education. In failing to kill her, the Taliban “amplified her voice,” writes Aryn Baker. “The Taliban made her a symbol, and a powerful one, since in the age of social media and crowdsourced activism, a parable as tragic and triumphant as hers can raise an army of disciples.”

Tim Cook, who took over Apple following the death of company founder Steve Jobs. “Tim Cook has the decidedly nontrivial distinction of being the first CEO of Apple since the very first to come to power without blood on his hands,” writes Les Grossman. In other words, no one was fired for Cook to take over. Rather, Jobs appointed Cook as CEO when he fell ill. Cook inherited the company from “one of the greatest innovators in history,” and made it his own in 2012.

Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s new president and first democratically elected leader following the revolt against longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. “For all his troubles at home, Morsi remains the Middle East’s most influential figure,” writes Time’s Bobby Ghosh. That was likely penned before the current uprising in Egypt.

Fabioloa Gianotti, head of the 3,000-person team of physicists who found the Higgs Boson, a particle that has eluded researches for nearly 50 years. The “God particle” gives all other particles their mass. Gianotti headed one of the experiments that confirmed Higgs, writes Jeffrey Kluger.

More on why and how Time chose Obama and the four runners-up in this short video:

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