December 19, 2012

(Larry Downing/Reuters)

It’s hard to argue with the selection of President Obama as TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year. It’s unobjectionable. It’s safe. It’s the TIME Person of the Year equivalent of taking your cousin to the prom.

That is what makes the selection a bit of a let-down. We are used to such long arguments about this. President Obama has already been awarded the honor in the past four years. As a double-dipper, Obama joins the ranks of such luminaries as George W. Bush, Richard Nixon and Josef Stalin. He’s undeniably in the nation’s mind, fresh off a strenuous campaign for reelection, but — what happened to TIME’s “You” and “Whistleblowers” guy? He had a certain flair that is missing from this selection. This is the kind of person-of-the-year selection at which you nod, blandly, and go about your day.

Meanwhile, in Canada, a golden eagle appears to have snatched a baby out of the sky. Here’s video:

The video has gone insanely viral, and some are already claiming it’s a fake.

But contemplate for a moment the glory of this image. This is quite literally the stuff of legend. I thought eagles snatching kids out of the sky was something that only happened in Greek mythology. Zeus, on one memorable occasion, turned himself into an eagle and snatched a young man named Ganymede to be his cup bearer. This is a great honor and means the Lord of the Sky finds you attractive.

“An eagle came down and snagged a baby today,” disappointed Greek fathers went home and told their wives, “but what do you know, Timmy got left again.”

This eagle’s reach (wingspan?) exceeds his grasp a little, but, hey, what’s a heaven for?

“You go get ‘em, Predator,” he told himself this morning, looking in the nest mirror.

“What’s that, dear?” his mate asked, sleepily.

“Nothing,” he said. He winked at himself.

I could make a cruel joke about how this child exceeded the carrion size limit, but I won’t. This eagle is clearly out of shape after retiring from Gandalf’s service.

It was a valiant but luckily unsuccessful effort, and now the eagle is probably behind in his Christmas shopping, having banked heavily on the surprise value of this large gift. “Everyone’s getting gift cards,” he is murmuring, nursing his wounded pride in a tall tree somewhere and reminding himself that he is an American symbol. “Gee, those drones made it look so easy. And I read online somewhere that eagles frequently make off with goats. Surely that child was smaller than a goat.”

The child is unhurt. When he grows up he will be flattered that Zeus saw such potential in him.

This is the kind of selection TIME should have made — bold, out of the blue, flapping majestically. But it did not. Leave that to the golden eagle. 

UPDATE: Yup, it’s a fake. 

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.