Two things are true about these nominations — and the Thursday night 10 p.m. ET announcement of the winner:
1) President Donald Trump is 100% aware that he has been nominated.
2) He will be livid if, as is likely, he does not win.
Trump, you see, has long been obsessed with the Time award (and Time magazine more generally).
In October 2012, Trump tweeted this
: “I learned last year that @TIME Magazine was losing all credibility by not including me in its Top 100…,”
In April 2013, he was back
: “The Time Magazine list of the 100 most influential people is a joke and a stunt from a magazine that, like Newsweek, will soon be dead. Bad list!” he tweeted. (Trump didn’t make the list.)
He continued over the next few years, disparaging Time for Being”as thin as paper
” and “really flimsy
.” Until Time put it on the cover in August 2015. “On the cover of @TIME Magazine, a great honor!” Trump tweeted
on August 20, 2015.
It was a short-lived honeymoon. When Time chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel as Person of the Year 2015, Trump turned to Twitter. “I told you that @TIME Magazine would never choose me as person of the year despite the fact that I am the heavy favorite”, he tweeted.
“They chose the person who is ruining Germany.” Later this year, Trump praised Bill O’Reilly, then Fox News anchor
or “your wonderful op-ed on why I should have been @TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year. You should run Time!”
(Note: Trump’s interest/obsession with time and his “Person of the Year” award runs so deep that at least five of his golf clubs had a Time magazine cover with a photo of a crosshaired Trump and these words: “Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a TV hit!” This cover, as first revealed by David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post, is a fake.)
After Trump won the 2016 election – shockingly – he finally got the recognition he had long sought. No, I’m not talking about being president: being named “Person of the Year” by Time. Tweeteth Trump in December this year
: “Thank you to Time Magazine and the Financial Times for naming me ‘Person of the Year’ – a great honour!”
Then, like so many others in Trump’s presidency, things take a turn for the worse.
At the end of November 2017, even before Time had announced its choice of “Person of the Year”, Trump tweeted this
“Time Magazine called me to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named ‘Man (Person) of the Year’, like last year, but I would have to accept an interview and a major photo shoot. I said that it probably wasn’t good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”
According to Time’s chief content officer, Alan Murray, that was entirely untrue. “Surprising,” he tweeted in response to Trump’s claim.
“Not a shred of truth here.”
Time then chose “The Silence Breakers” – women who shared their stories of sexual abuse and harassment as part of the 2017 #MeToo movement for honor. Trump was shortlisted for the Time Prize in 2018 and 2019, but lost both times. In 2018, “The Guardians”, “journalists facing persecution”, were chosen for this honor. Last year, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg won.
Which brings us to this year.
If Trump were to win, it would undoubtedly be a major upset. Because, well, he lost the presidential election to Biden. And on the face of the fight against the coronavirus, it’s Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nurses and doctors risking their lives to treat patients with the virus. (My educated guess is that Fauci/frontline workers will win.) As for the protests demanding racial justice that have erupted across the country in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, well, that’s not exactly the point. neither is Trump strong.
Which brings up an interesting point: it’s not just that Trump is unlikely to win Time’s “Person of the Year.”
It is that the other three finalists are, each in their own way, an implicit rejection of the president and his mandate.
Biden ran expressly to bring the country back from the brink where he believed Trump had taken him. Fauci and Trump have become polar opposites in the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, with the doctor urging mask-wearing and caution and the president not only displaying these best practices but publicly attacking Fauci. The protests that followed Floyd’s death were about – at their most obvious level – the string of deaths of black men and women at the hands of police, but were also tied to the rejection of a president who deliberately weaponized race and sadly said there were “very good people on both sides” following the 2017 white supremacist riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In short: The other nominees are a “who’s who” of people Donald Trump doesn’t want to lose to — or, in Biden’s case, lose twice.
Keep a close eye on Trump’s Twitter feed around 10 p.m. ET tonight. There could well be fireworks.