They will receive Presidential Medals of Freedom on Friday. It is an entertaining group: along with Presley, Hatch and Page, Babe Ruth, Antonin Scalia, Miriam Adelson and Roger Staubach will be honored.
Talk about diversity! Scott has written about Elvis’s patriotism and fundamental conservatism. And of course Elvis is one of the icons of American culture. Like Babe Ruth, America’s greatest sports hero. Ruth, an utterly self-created man and a trailblazer who rethought the game of baseball, strikes me as an appropriate symbol of freedom.
Alan Page in his prime was a truly great football player. I think it may have been in 1971 that Sports Illustrated’s preview of the Minnesota Vikings’ upcoming season began with–or maybe consisted entirely of–“Page destroys.” He was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court more for his athletic fame than for any distinction as a lawyer, but, despite being a liberal, Page is a good guy who has tirelessly promoted the importance of education to African-American youth.
Roger Staubach rounds out the athlete honorees. Staubach won the Heisman Trophy as quarterback of the Naval Academy football team. Upon graduation, he fulfilled his six-year commitment to the Navy, serving for a year in VietNam. The Dallas Cowboys had the prescience to spend a tenth-round draft choice on Staubach in 1964. He joined them upon his discharge in 1969 and led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl victories. Among other distinctions, he coined the phrase “Hail Mary” in an interview after he beat the Vikings with a last-second desperation pass. Staubach played before the era of big money in sports, and he went on to make far more money in real estate than he earned as a football player.
Orrin Hatch is, of course, a long-serving U.S. Senator. But most people don’t know that he is also a songwriter. I don’t think I am giving away any secrets, at this point, if I say that Hatch is a Power Line reader. Some years ago, I visited him in his office. Before I left, he gave me a CD of patriotic songs written by him. Like Elvis Presley, Orrin Hatch is an unabashed American patriot.
Not much needs to be said about Antonin Scalia. On the Supreme Court, he defended liberty for 30 years. Perhaps as much as anyone in the country, his work served to keep America free during those decades.
Finally, President Trump has been criticized for giving the award to Miriam Adelson, the wife of Sheldon Adelson, because the Adelsons are major donors to conservative and Republican causes. But Mrs. Adelson is a physician and a philanthropist whose considerable achievements are related here. While perhaps not in the same league with Babe Ruth and Antonin Scalia, Mrs. Adelson is considerably more worthy than many Medal of Freedom recipients of recent years. (Ellen DeGeneres? The appalling Mary Robinson?) But since this post is mostly for fun, I won’t pursue that theme further.
It is, I think, a great set of honorees–in more than one sense, an all-American group.