Paul Krugman: Since when do we give the Presidential Medal of Freedom to people who hit golf balls for money?
A leftover from yesterday. Imagine how bad your takes need to be for this to *not* be your worst take this year:
I'm old enough to remember when Presidential Medals of Freedom were given for showing courage and making sacrifices on behalf of the nation and the world. Tiger Woods … hits golf balls for money https://t.co/dYmWPVljL9
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) May 7, 2019
His worst take this year was posted on March 6, when the partisan brawl over Ilhan Omar inspired him to say that the American left’s total superiority to the American right extended even to the quality of their anti-semites. No foolin’.
But stay tuned. It’s only May. I’m excited to see what he’s got saved up for us this summer.
His opinion on Tiger Woods isn’t terrible in principle, it’s terrible as applied. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the country’s highest civilian honor. It’s not outlandish to believe that to earn that you should need to do more than be the greatest golfer the country’s ever produced and have earned a zillion dollars. Civic awards on this scale must, you might reasonably conclude, honor momentous contributions to the United States itself, preferably involving great sacrifice. Think MLK or astronauts, not golfers. If you’re going to honor athletes, focus on people whose careers meant something far beyond the playing field. Jackie Robinson, whose family received the Medal of Freedom posthumously on his behalf from Reagan in 1984, was an obvious choice.
Unless you were in a coma before Inauguration Day 2017 like Krugs here, though, you know that this particular horse left the barn ages ago. The list of Medal of Freedom winners is lo-o-o-o-ng and chock full of celebrities, not civic giants. Andrew Stiles has a list of some of the recipients under Obama: We can grant him Steven Spielberg and Meryl Streep, I suppose, as they’re each undeniably legends of their craft, but … Gloria Estefan? Tom Brokaw?
Trump honoring Tiger Woods somehow devalued the currency of an award that had already been given to … Lorne Michaels?
Krugman’s tweet is knee-jerk anti-Trumpism at its laziest. If anything, Tiger was overdue: Arnold Palmer got the Medal of Freedom in 2004 from Dubya and Jack Nicklaus followed him a year later. Had Woods not derailed over his skirt-chasing scandals soon after Obama took office and then spent a decade trying to get his game back, it’s a cinch that O would have awarded him the Medal, one racial pioneer in his field to another. Instead it had to wait for Trump.
Exit question: How is it possible that Elvis never received the Medal of Freedom until Trump corrected the oversight last year? If we’re going to honor celebrities who’ve shaped modern American culture, he’s basically Exhibit A.
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