Friday, November 16, 2018

A sultan, a king and a judge who once played for the Chicago Bears

President Donald J. Trump will be trying to buy our love on Friday, what with his presentation of Presidential Medals of Freedom to seven individuals, including some long deceased whose celebrity status is too great to be ridiculed.

Superimpose Trump's face over that of Nixon?
Seriously, who’s going to bad mouth Babe Ruth or Elvis Presley. The cultural celebrities of baseball and rock ‘n’ roll whose levels reached so high that they remain exalted even though they’ve both been deceased for decades.

AT THE VERY least, there’s no chance that either man will show up at the White House and express sarcastic thoughts at the White House. Seriously, if “the Babe” were still alive, I think he still was having a better year than the president.

And maybe Trump thinks he can have those old photographs of Presley at the White House with then-President Richard Nixon digitally altered, with his own face (and always-tacky hairdo) superimposed over that of Nixon so that Trump is now shaking hands with “the king of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Whether Chuck Berry is the one who really deserves that label because he went to jail for his musical art (as comedian Tommy Chong once suggested in one of his films with Richard “Cheech” Marin) is a topic of discussion for a future commentary.

But seriously, Trump thinks we need to have his official recognition granted to Ruth and Presley for them to have any cultural significance. Which is more about the pomposity of the Trump ego than anything else.
Had better years than just about all presidents

BESIDES, TRUMP IS more than willing to use these ancient celebrities to try to give himself a good day in the news cycle.

Not that it’s unheard of for this honor, which has been given out since the days of John F. Kennedy as president, to be awarded to athletes. In recent years, Barack Obama gave it to basketball stars Michael Jordan and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar.

And as far as baseball players are concerned, former President George W. Bush (a former owner of the Texas Rangers ball club) gave the medal posthumously to Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates star who was killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while trying to deliver medical supplies and other relief to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua.
George W. Bush honored Clemente's greatness

So it may be technically accurate to say the award has been given out posthumously. Although one has to admit, Trump honoring Ruth (who I suspect would have viewed as Trump as some little pygmy trying to bloat his own ego off of Ruth’s aura) feels different than when Obama in 2014 gave the medals to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – Civil Rights activists who in 1964 were murdered in Mississippi because of the local sentiment that they were “damn Yankees” meddling into something that locals thought was none of their business – as in challenging the Southern “way of life” that thought segregation was acceptable.

FOR ALL I know, Trump probably wishes he could rescind those medals because they would offend the sensibilities of many of those who wear the ridiculous red caps that publicly identify themselves as backers of this “Age of Trump” we’re now in.
Page a Chicago-tied medal recipient

Of course, there will be other medal recipients on Friday, including Alan Page.

Remember him? He’s the former pro football player who actually finished up his career with the Chicago Bears, and also played his college football at Notre Dame. He went on to a legal career, and in fact wound up being elected a judge to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

But considering how much Trump likes to dis anything connected to Chicago, it wouldn’t shock me that his stint at Soldier Field will be amongst the last things mentioned when Page accepts his medal.

IT SHOULD BE remembered that this medal is meant to give presidents a chance to share in some celebrity glamour. Trump would hardly be the first president to try to score political points with people for non-political actions.
SCALIA: Bigger than 'the Babe' or Elvis?

Heck, when Obama gave the medal to Jordan in 2016, he made a point of mentioning how he was now in the presence of a star of the movie “Space Jam.” Even though anybody who actually remembers the film knows that Bugs Bunny was the real star of that partially-animated flick.

Or there’s another posthumous recipient whom Trump will honor – former Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, whose long-time stint on the high court may be worthy of historic recognition.

Although I’m sure that Trump thinks Scalia’s significance is that his death, along with the partisan political battle that ensued, enabled Trump to have a Supreme Court vacancy to fill on Day One of his presidency!


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