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There has been a lot of slack over whether Robert De Niro, Ellen Degeneres and other Hollywood celebrities awarded the Medal Of Freedom by Obama this week should return the coveted medals, having done nothing to earn it and made no real contributions to America other than support Barack Obama and criticize President-Elect Donald Trump.
Obama has given more Presidential Medals of Freedom than any previous president, and the surprising announcement last week that he would induct one last class of all liberals Hollywood celebrities — he held a similar ceremony two months ago — reflected his obvious joy in lauding his personal heroes, and the awareness that many of them would probably never receive such an honor from his successor. Many of the awardees have praised Democrats or been sharply critical of President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Among the honorees were Robert Redford, Bill and Melinda Gates, Tom Hanks and Diana Ross. When he put the medal around the neck of Michael Jordan, Mr. Obama, an avid basketball fan, beamed like a 10-year-old.
Mr. Hanks and his wife are large donors to Mr. Obama and other Democrats, and he took part in a dinner discussion in February about the future of Mr. Obama’s foundation and library. And Mr. Abdul-Jabbar spoke at the Democratic National Convention, when he slammed Mr. Trump for his proposals to bar Muslim immigrants and introduced himself as Michael Jordan, “because I know that Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
In the past, the Medal Of Freedom has been awarded to those who have done something extraordinary for the advancement of society or the country, or for the good of Freedom.
Ronald Reagan awarded the second most Medals Of Freedom before Obama, but to many different people under different circumstances.
They included James Burnham, a former American Communist leader who changed to conservatism and spent the rest of his life advancing the ideas of capitalism and conservative political thought.
Also awarded the Medal of Freedom by Reagan was Vladimir Horowitz, a Russian born musician who is regarded as one of the greatest pianists of all time.
Barack Obama though has awarded Yo Yo Ma, Barbara Streisand and Tom Brokaw all Medals Of Freedom.
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