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What Do Billie Jean King and Bob Dole’s Running Mate Have in Common?

Posted on Aug 12, 2009
White House / Chuck Kennedy

The president on Wednesday honored 16 do-gooders, big shots and champions, including Stephen Hawking (still alive despite Britain’s socialized medicine), Billie Jean King (G.O.A.T.?) and, oddly enough, the late former U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp, who was Bob Dole’s ’96 VP choice. Full list after the jump.

Obama has a long way to go before he tops President Bush, who gave the medal to former CIA Director George Tenet for blowing it before 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, Paul Bremer for blowing it after the invasion of Iraq, and Gen. Tommy Franks (ret.) for just blowing it.

White House / 2009 Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

  • Nancy Goodman Brinker is the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s leading breast cancer grassroots organization.
  • Pedro José Greer, Jr. is the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Florida International University School of Medicine. He is also the founder of Camillus Health Concern, an agency that provides medical care to over 10,000 homeless and low-income patients each year in Miami.
  • Stephen Hawking is an internationally-recognized theoretical physicist, and is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.
  • Jack Kemp was a U.S. Congressman, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Republican Nominee for Vice President in 1996. He died in May, 2009
  • Sen. Edward Kennedy is one of the longest-serving and greatest Senators of all time. He has worked tirelessly for health care reform over the last five decades.
  • Billie Jean King is known for winning the famous "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match, and championing gender equality issues not only in sports, but in all aspects of life.
  • Rev. Joseph Lowery has been a leader of the civil rights movement since the 1950s, and co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther King.
  • Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow is the last living Plains Indian war chief, and author of works on Native American history and culture who has served as an inspiration to young Native Americans across the country.
  • Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official from a major city in the United States. He was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, and encouraged LGBT citizens to live their lives openly.
  • Sandra Day O’Connor was a Supreme Court Justice from 1981 until her retirement in 2006. She was the first woman ever to sit on the Supreme Court, and has received numerous awards for her outstanding achievements.
  • Sidney Poitier is an actor known for breaking racial barriers. He is the first African American to be nominated and win a Best Actor Academy Award.
  • Chita Rivera is an actress, singer and dancer, who has broken barriers and inspired a generation of women. In 2002, she was the first Hispanic to receive the Kennedy Center Honor.
  • Mary Robinson was the first female President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Since 2002, she has been the President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative.
  • Janet Davison Rowley, M.D., is the Blum Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. She discovered the first consistent chromosome translocation in a human cancer.
  • Desmond Tutu is widely regarded as "South Africa’s moral conscience," and was a leading anti-apartheid activist in South Africa.
  • Muhammad Yunus is a global leader in anti-poverty efforts, and pioneered the use of "micro-loans" to provide credit to poor individuals.


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By Folktruther, August 13, 2009 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment

good list, doublestandards.

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By samosamo, August 13, 2009 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 13 at 8:52 pm
(Unregistered commenter)

The bland celebrating the bland.  Obama has radar for the safe and easy.

In essense, obama hasn’t earned the right to award the likes of someone of Steven Hawking’s stature plus some others on the list that are TRUE to their word and calling.

Their are few politicians that don’t make me sick, and few are of the stature to award those so deserving.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 13, 2009 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Other possible choices: Daniel Ellsberg, Gore Vidal, Toni Morrison, Howard Zinn, Studs Terkel, Paul Newman,
Jimmy Carter, Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Caldicott….

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, August 13, 2009 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The bland celebrating the bland.  Obama has radar for the safe and easy.

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By e&co;., August 13, 2009 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment

Generally good choices.  I disagree with comments about Justice O’Connor.  I abhorred her joining the majority on Bush v. Gore, and of course disagreed with some other decisions as well, but that should not invalidate an amazing career.  (As for jail, that should be for the plaintiffs who stole the election, not the justices who heard twisted arguments to validate their actions, something I remember vividly as it was the first time arguments before the Court were made available on radio.)  And she is retired now, which means she is no longer “in government” and is in fact on the boards of several private philanthropic organizations.  I do agree about the Fed, although not necessarily about all its officials, some of whom are trying to do the right thing.  The problem with the Fed is our central bank should not be a cartel of private bankers, and we should not have to rely on their “good will” to protect our economy.  Their vested interests make this dicey at best, and it goes against the letter and spirit of our Charters, which were intended to avoid having any one man (or woman) dictating policy, but instead have ALL of us responsive to law and regulation.  And as for the late Jack Kemp, who had been retired for some time before he died:  He was not one of my favorite people, but to be fair, he did reform HUD and helped implement the free enterprise zone system that has helped a lot of small businesses in underprivileged areas. 

And I too hope Obama is listening to Archbishop Tutu and President Robinson regarding the Israeli-Palestinian situation.  President Obama frustrates the living daylights out of me, but occasionally he does something well, and this is, overall, a pretty good example.  I just wish he’d do everything with the same level of thoughtfulness as this.  Or, more importantly, in ways that respect the promises he made us rather than betray them.

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By samosamo, August 13, 2009 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment

I certainly think sandra o’conner should be in prison along with the other 4 ‘supreme’ justices that illegally stopped the vote recount in 2000 giving the worst 2 people in history the white house.

And I am highly dubious about any member of government or congress being ‘blessed’ with this award simply for the fact of the current state of affairs of NO JUSTICE and TOTAL GRAND LARCENY!

May as well give w & dick and rove and rumsfeld and greenspan and bernanke and the rest of w & dick’s cabal one of those tokens.

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By Folktruther, August 13, 2009 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

Outraged, surely you jest. some of the recipients were rightly honored.  Some were right wing hacks used to protect Obama’s back.

O’connor was a Supreme ct judge who voted to make Bush president is what has been called the most corrupt Supreme Court decision in history.

Bilie Jean King was instrumental in getting a tobacco company to sponsor tennis, and to influence women to smoke. Do you think that is coming a long way, baby?  how is that different from Bush.

Kemp, the running mate of Dole, ... ah, well.

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By eileen fleming, August 13, 2009 at 5:43 am Link to this comment

Please learn more about Mary Robinson @

“Hard Right Zionists Try to “Freeman” Peace Activist Mary Robinson”

On December 20, 2006, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was quoted in The Guardian:

“I’ve been deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land. I have seen the humiliation at the checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about…Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice…If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land.”

Here’s HOPING Obama is listening to them both!

“HOPE has two children. The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it.”-St. Augustine


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By Outraged, August 13, 2009 at 1:35 am Link to this comment

Congratulations to all these DESERVING recipients of the “Presidential Medal of Freedom”.

It is so aggravating that Bush doled out these recognitions to those of little worth.  A sad commentary of the Republican Party whose actions denigrated America, the World and the validity of integrity.

Hopefully, we can see our way clear to give the due respect and honor to these new recipients and acknowledge these have RIGHTFULLY earned this recognition.

Thank you, Pres. Obama and the many others involved, for recognizing those who SHOULD be recognized.

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