Rush Limbaugh is arguably perhaps the most divisive and polarizing media figure in the United States.
Does he really and truly deserve to be honored with the nation’s highest civilian honor? Has this fellow really contributed to the cultural well-being of this country, has he really made a positive contribution to the furtherance of this country’s great ideals?
I’ll set aside the bizarre manner in which Donald John Trump bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Rush Limbaugh, having the first lady hang the medal around Limbaugh’s neck during the State of the Union speech.
I want to examine the actual impact that Limbaugh has had on political discourse. He has helped coarsen it. He has cheapened it beyond what I long have recognized.
Yes, the man is suffering from lung cancer. The nature of his public announcement earlier this week suggests he well might not have much time left. I don’t like watching anyone suffer from painful disease.
However, the stunt that Trump pulled off by honoring Limbaugh with the Medal of Freedom just cannot go unchallenged.
Limbaugh has been a spokesman for the “birther” movement that also included Donald Trump; you know, the movement that challenge whether Barack Obama was constitutionally qualified to run for president. Limbaugh has hurled countless racist taunts at critics. He has mocked the teenage daughter of a president. Limbaugh has trashed in the most personal terms public officials who adhere to policies that do not comport with his own.
Limbaugh’s public career has been built on division, rancor and anger.
This is worth saluting with an honor that has gone to likes of, oh, Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks?
I think not.
However, the deed is done. He won’t give it back. Donald Trump won’t demand he surrender this high honor.
I just fear terribly that for as long as he is president, Donald Trump is going to hand out this exalted tribute to other political hacks.