For me, personally, President Obama was head and shoulders above everyone else in 2012, and deserves the Time accolade. There are three reasons for that.
First, his LEADERSHIP. No matter what was going on around him, the president behaves impeccably and gives the appropriate lead and support in it. His critics might say that he has been slow to reacting to Republican opponents, or not dealt with the obstructionists firmly enough. But it was clear that he is very good at fighting his own corner, quite easily a man of principles, ready to stand up for his own views and sticks to them too. The people liked his actions and his way of leading the country, otherwise they would not have voted him back in on such a wide margin.
The way he kept a cool head during his election campaign while his opponents were losing theirs and counting their chickens before they were hatched showed his steely determined personality, someone who knows where he's going and pulls out all the stops to get there. Regardless of the predictions, President Obama has calmly stuck with it, displaying a determination, vision, organisation and stickability which has defied all the learned politicos every step of the way.
Second, the 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. This was hard fought and very difficult for him, especially after the first presidential debate which he clearly lost. Since coming into office, he has slowly realised that his opponents were not interested in working with him at all, but were determined to make him a one-term president, no matter what he did. At times he must have despaired at ever getting anything done which the country could benefit from. He never sunk to the levels of his opponents and kept his head well above the fray. Most important, he never lost sight of his goal: to win the second term, and he kept that determination in place even when others thought he no hope of winning certain States. He suck with his objectives doggedly, fought a very good campaign based on his personality and competence, and took the voters by storm, especially when they compared him to the opposition.
Finally, his PERSONALITY. He has empathy and understanding for others by the bucketful. Somehow he knows the right words he wishes to convey, the right tone and the right feeling when it matters most, like with the recent massacre at Sandy Hook school. Some leaders would have kept a stiff upper lip at those times in keeping with his august position. But he allowed his to quiver more than once, to show his raw emotion, and to behave as any parent would at such a great loss. He smiles easily, he loves his humour and he is approachable, priceless attributes that bring people towards him.
In fact, the President is like a sponge in dealing with people, mopping up their adulation and respect then reflecting it back upon them in triplicate to make them feel valued, wanted and inspired by his presence. He easily mirrors others and loses himself in their presence which many aloof and detached leaders cannot do. He is not afraid of sending himself up either and people love that.
In essence, President Obama is an indisputable people person who is gradually stamping his leadership, character and personality on the country. He knows how to motivate others, to encourage and inspire them, most of all in 2012 in the way he dealt with Hurricane Sandy, the gruesome election campaign and the Sandy Hook massacre.
With him, undoubtedly, America is in great hands.