Time magazine named "The Two George Bushes" as its annual Man of the Year, noting in its announcement Saturday that he "seemed almost to be two presidents."
"One was a foreign policy profile that was a study in resoluteness and mastery, the other a domestic visage just as strongly marked by wavering and confusion," the news magazine said in the cover story of its Jan. 7 issue, due on newsstands Monday.The cover carried the headline "Men of the Year" rather than Man of the Year, and a Janus-like portrait made up of two photographs of the president was captioned "The Two George Bushes."
The publication's choice of the person "who, for better or worse, has had the most impact on the year's events" was announced at a news conference at the Time-Life editorial offices. Last year's choice was Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The two faces of Bush, Time said, "were not just different but also had few features in common."
The magazine praised Bush for "midwifing" a new world order that has had a decidedly favorable impact on the course of events. In painfully sharp contrast, Bush has affected domestic news decidedly for the worse, it said.
"What could have been more baffling, at times ludicrous, than Bush's performance on taxes?" it asked. "His domestic policy, to the extent he has one, has been to leave things alone until he could no longer avoid taking action."
A White House spokesman declined comment on the Time selection, saying only, "We're not going to be reacting to that today."
Time explained Bush's split personality image as partly a matter of interest.
"Global diplomacy is what he has trained for and what absorbs him; domestic matters are just not as much fun," it reported. "But it is also that he has mastered a technique of policy formation - hatching backstage deals with a small group of leaders whose confidence he has carefully cultivated over the years - that works better abroad than at home."
The Man of the Year edition also carried an interview with Bush in which he blames the Democrat-controlled Congress for lack of progress on domestic issues and promises "to do what we have got to do" to make the new world order turn out right.