Both Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump have built careers on bigotry. It was almost as if Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to himself.
United States President Donald Trump delivered his annual address at the State of the Union recently. While most Presidents focus on their achievements over the past year and their agenda for the next one, Trump's speech played out more like a direct-to-TV movie. Sure, he had some talking points about his administration's attainments, but for the most part, he focused on how much bigger and better his administration is in comparison to former President Barack Obama's. Most notably, however, he handed out a lot of awards. From welcoming a soldier back home to awarding a young girl with a lifechanging scholarship, his speech was an example of what it would look like if Oprah ever became President. He also awarded the prestigious Prestigious Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh, one of America's most prominent racists, Vox reports.
Looking at Limbaugh, the President stated during his speech, "And Rush, in recognition of all you have done for our nation, the millions of people today that you speak to and that you inspire, and all of the incredible work you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight he will be receiving our country’s highest — you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom." Republicans, of course, cheered boisterously. For those unacquainted, Limbaugh is the host of The Rush Limbaugh Show, a right-wing radio show. Over the course of his show, Limbaugh has made many a nasty statement. For example, he once suggested the Obama administration was permitting Ebola to be transmitted to the United States due to its guilt over slavery. Yikes.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by John F. Kennedy in 1963 as a way to honor Americans who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." So does Limbaugh fit the bill? Absolutely not. In fact, Tiger Woods is probably the only other person to come close to the horrible things the radio host has done on his journey to power and fame. Eerily enough, he's a lot like Trump. Both have built a career on the backs of the women they made sexist remarks about and the xenophobia they freely spewed without fear of punishment.
Though Trump couldn't have just given himself the medal, awarding it to Limbaugh is practically the same thing. As Laura McGann writing for Vox notes, they're both birthers, have a long history of racist comments, incredibly sexist, and ableist. There is no doubt that the Medal of Freedom was intended for more honorable recipients. Perhaps McGann put it best in her closing statements: "Both men have become powerful through building up a base by putting down others. Now, one is honoring the other. And there’s nothing meritorious about it."