Why Time picking Greta Thunberg will drive Donald Trump crazy
Posted December 11, 2019 9:20 a.m. EST
CNN — On Wednesday morning, Time magazine announced that teen climate activist Greta Thunberg was its person of the year.
Wrote Time of Thunberg:
"She has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change. She has offered a moral clarion call to those who are willing to act, and hurled shame on those who are not."
Thunberg was chosen among a group that included the Hong Kong protesters, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump.
And it's the last name on that list who will be most aggrieved, not only because he was not chosen but also because Thunberg, well, was.
Start here: Trump has long had an obsession with Time's person of the year -- dating back long before he was President.
"I knew last year that @TIME Magazine lost all credibility when they didn't include me in their Top 100...," Trump tweeted in October 2012. Three years later, as a candidate for president, Trump reacted this way when Time chose German Prime Minister Angela Merkel as its person of the year: "I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite They picked person who is ruining Germany."
When Time picked Trump as its person of the year the following year, he took note; "Thank you to Time Magazine and Financial Times for naming me "Person of the Year" - a great honor!," he tweeted.
Then, in 2017, Trump tweeted this: "Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named 'Man (Person) of the Year,' like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!" (Side note: That's not how Time picks a person of the year. Not at all.)
And then there's this: Fake 2009 Time covers showing Trump as person of the year were found hanging in at least five of his golf clubs. The covers showed a cross-armed Trump and these words: "Donald Trump: The 'Apprentice' is a television smash!" Good times.
So, Trump cares a lot about who Time picks. (Why? Because the vast majority of his conceptions of success, fame and power were established in the 1980s. Being on the cover of a magazine -- particularly one like Time -- was a sign that you'd made it. And Trump likes visible signs that he's a big deal.)
Which brings us to Thunberg, who rose to fame when she began what she called "climate strikes" in her native Sweden to protest the lack of action by governments around the world to address the threat posed by climate change.
Earlier this fall, she spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, scolding the assembled leaders in blunt terms about their inaction on climate and what it would cost them -- and her.
"People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing," Thunberg told the UN audience. "We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth."
Trump offered this sarcastic review of her speech via Twitter: "She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!" (I wrote at the time how it was beyond the pale -- even for Trump -- to pick on a 16-year-old girl to his 60+ million Twitter followers.)
So the combination of being passed over (again!!) and Thunberg being Time's pick will annoy Trump. A lot.
Will he lash out via Twitter? I'm not a betting man, but, well, yes.