Monday, November 28, 2016 by Don Wrightman
President Barack Obama issued his final round of Presidential Medals of Freedom last week to a group, which was largely comprised of Democratic donors and people who have given him political support. On November 16, the 2016 list of honorees was unveiled by the White House, and last Tuesday the nation’s highest civilian award was awarded to those who made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Eleven of the honorees have contributed to Democratic committees or campaigns, including some that supported Obama directly.
A handful of nominees are actually Hollywood celebrities who have advocated for Obama or Hillary Clinton. Obama cited the significance of the award by considering the recipients as people who have helped to push America forward. Not only is the Presidential Medal of Freedom the nation’s highest civilian honor, it’s a tribute to the idea that each individual possesses the opportunity to change the country for the better. Obama says that those nominated have inspired millions of individuals worldwide and range in profession from scientists, philanthropists, public servants, activists, athletes and artists.
Ellen DeGeneres has made the list this year. The comedian and talk show host has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic committees and campaigns throughout the years. In 2012, DeGeneres contributed over $35 thousand to the Obama Victory Fund. This year, DeGeneres contributed $100 thousand to the Hillary Victory Fund.
There are a couple of former NBA superstars listed as well. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan are both Obama supporters. Michael Jordan hosted a $3 million fundraiser for Obama during his re-election bid, which cost attendees $20 thousand per guest.
Philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife Melinda will both receive medals on Tuesday. Collectively the couple has donated thousands to Obama, and tens of thousands to Democratic groups including the DNC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Although the Gates’ have contributed to Republican committees too, their contributions have favored Democrats, consider the $50,000 given to Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
Some actors on the list to be honored include Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks and Robert Redford. All three of which have supported Obama.
One of Trump’s fiercest critics, Bruce Springsteen, will also be an honoree on Tuesday. Springsteen has referred to the President-Elect as a moron and a toxic narcissist. Springsteen rallied for Hillary Clinton alongside Jon Bon Jovi the evening before the election.
The only clear Republican on the list is Vin Scully, a baseball broadcaster who criticized socialism during a live broadcast in June.