Buckminster Fuller for architecture. Georgia O’Keeffe and Norman Rockwell for art. Martha Graham for dance. Walt Disney and Samuel Goldwyn for cinema. Maya Angelou for literature. Bruce Springsteen for music. Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf for military service. John Wooden and Michael Jordan for sports.
This short list represents Americans who have been bestowed with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is the nation’s highest civilian honor. All aspects of American life are recognized — from arts and business to law and politics.
It is in that latter category that President Trump on Thursday identified someone he wants to give the medal to — Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare.
The president offered that high praise based on Nunes’ chairing the House Intelligence Committee as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government in the 2016 presidential election. Nunes has has been a staunch defender of the president.
Trump, in characteristic fashion, offered the idea in a phone interview with the “Fox and Friends” show on Fox News.
“If this turns out as everyone thinks it will, Devin Nunes should get the Medal of Honor,” Trump said, then clarifying he meant Medal of Freedom, since Medals of Honor go to military members only.
“What he’s gone through, and his bravery, he should get a very important medal.”
With due respect to the president and his affection for Nunes, giving the congressman the medal would be laughable. For one thing, prior winners have been honored for their life’s work. Nunes, while having served in the House since 2003, is still an active representative whose career is not yet over.
Besides, many would question whether Nunes’ accomplishments merit such a distinction. He has been roundly criticized for failing to advance any meaningful legislation for all his years in Congress. Among those making such criticism is his latest challenger, Andrew Janz, who is campaigning hard to unseat Nunes in the November election.
Nunes’ work on the Intelligence Committee has been highly controversial, damaging and embarrassing. Nunes turned the committee’s traditional protocol — country before politics — upside down with how he has handled the committee’s investigation into Russian meddling.
How ironic that the very medal Trump wants to give Nunes is called “Medal of Freedom.” Freedom from a real investigation?
The Medal of Freedom should not be politicized. The president obviously is grateful to the congressman. But the better way to show it would be to give Nunes a stay at a Trump hotel, complete with some free breakfasts.