This week, prominent conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh announced that he’d been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer — and this Tuesday, the day after that revelation, CNN is reporting that President Donald Trump is planning to award Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States. In a year with numerous activists rising through the ranks on behalf of a range from marginalized communities to the ailing environment — and often both — Trump has opted for the struggling conservative talking head, who has spent decades inciting hatred of his opponents.
‘According to a person familiar with the discussion, Trump informed anchors he will bestow Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the coming months. Limbaugh has been a staunch ally of the President’s for years, and dined with him at his Palm Beach golf club over the holidays.’
The revelation from Trump emerged at a White House meal shared by leaders in the media and the president in the hours ahead of his State of the Union address. CNN was excluded from that event — the president and his staffers have always been petty — but other networks attended anyway.
The official description of the Medal of Freedom notes that it’s for “individuals who have 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.” Trump has opted to bestow the honors upon figures including the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the late rock singer Elvis Presley, and professional athletic figures including Babe Ruth, Tiger Woods, and Roger Penske. Sources who CNN describes as “close to Trump” insist that he “personally enjoys granting his friends the nation’s highest civilian honor.” Along those lines, honorees under his watch have also included figures like Miriam Adelson, who is a prominent conservative financier alongside her husband Sheldon.
The revelation about Trump’s planned honor for Limbaugh comes shortly before he’s set to deliver a highly watched State of the Union speech, although more than half a dozen prominent Democrats — including some high-profile names like Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — have announced plans to boycott the event. Although he’s been spouting off about his impeachment by the U.S. House for weeks on end, he claimed ahead of the speech that he’d focus more on economic arguments and save the anti-impeachment rhetoric for the next day, when he is slated to be formally acquitted by the Republican majority in the Senate.
He has used the State of the Union to air political grievances before. In 2019, after Democrats took control of the House, he railed:
‘An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way! We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.’
Democrats didn’t exactly fall in line! Besides, he’s in absolutely no place to lecture others about “unity.”