Time's Person of the Year has been very US-centric for quite some time. If I were on the Time Editorial Board, I'd be trying to get Time's Person of the Year narrowed down to the following few who had the most lasting impact on 2008.
Barack H. Obama - Yes, President-elect Obama was the news for most of 2008. His primary victory and general election history have made history. It doesn't matter what I think of his politics, he has changed the political landscape for years to come, reinventing the Presidential campaign through the use of the internet and the throwing away of the old public financing system.Those are my picks. I think they should be in the top circle. Knowing Time magazing, I'm sure Obama will end up being person of the year, newly elected Presidents generally are in their election year.
Sarah Palin - The second woman on a major party ticket, love her or hate her she had a massive influence on popular culture and the Presidential election. She shouldn't be the person of the year, but if she's not being considered...yes, over John McCain, then they're not paying that much attention. Palin's going to be a major player in Republican politics for years to come, to ignore her would be foolish.
Nouri al-Maliki - His leadership in Iraq hasn't been perfect, but it's been much needed. Iraq has become a much more stable place under al-Maliki's leadership and that had a huge impact both regionally and back in the United States where Iraqi politics disappeared pretty quickly during the election cycle.
The Somali Pirates - Of the historic trends making comebacks, no one ever could have anticipated piracy to come back into style. Somali pirates hve attacked African, Asian, and Middle Eastern vessels stealing grain, crude oil, and bouts of kidnapping. It may have been passing news here in the US, but the threat to seafarers has become bigger internationally and is not a thing which can be ignored.
George W. Bush - As much as Obama redefined Presidential politics, the Presidency of George W. Bush defined the entire election. Both major party candidates ran against him and against his policies. Every single debate, Bush's name was brought up by Barack Obama. Bush just quietly continued to be President and learned from some of his previous mistakes. He forged ahead as he always does.
Dmitry Medvedev - He suddenly went from unelected Deputy Prime Minister to President of Russia in the course of this year. He's a tech-savvy leader who videoblogs and actually ran for office on a pretty strongly capitalistic platform. He's invaded Georgia and tried to restart the Cold War, while stating he doesn't want a new Cold War. He's already shown that he wants to be involved in foreign policy and has not been entirely a Putin puppet thus far. His Presidency has been shaky so far, but he wants to be a major international player and is doing the job quite well so far. With his visits to Cuba and Venezuela, he's making it known that he's more than happy to anger the United States.