TIME Magazine reportedly offered its Man of the Year distinction to Donald Rumsfeld, but Rumsfeld declined. I must admit that I mis-judged TIME Magazine in my December 31, 2003 Post, in which I speculated that TIME named "The American Soldier" as Man of the Year because TIME could not bear to credit Rumsfeld as the individual responsible for the most important World event of 2003. Apparently TIME was willing to give the credit, but Rumsfeld wasn't willing to take it. My apologies to TIME Magazine.
The incident gives some insight into what makes the man tick. Rummy did not decline the honor simply out of humility, although that may have been a factor. Rumsfeld exhibits an impressive lack of fear of Washington's ruling elites because he refuses to let them "make" him; therefore they do not have the power to "break" him either. The Secretary of War doesn't need the job, nor the applause of the media and political elites whose approbation is the coin of the realm for most public figures.
Rumsfeld has spent enough time in government to know how the game is played, but at some critical point in his career he must have decided to be his own man, no matter what. That's just the kind of man that can be trusted with leadership of the Defense Department in these perilous times. In fact, Man of the Year is too small a designation for Donald Rumsfeld, since he surely is a man for all seasons.