TThe last time President Trump publicly distributed a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the ceremony ended abruptly. On December 9, Dan Gable, the legendary varsity wrestler and legendary trainer, dutifully had a medal draped over his neck as Trump spoke of the acronym “GOAT” and ribbed the Olympic grappler asking if he might be able to. beat him in a match. Once the assembled press began asking questions about President-elect Biden’s inauguration, Trump, without warning, wandered sleepily out of the Oval Office, leaving a puzzled Gable to raise his hands as the cameras rolled, with little of things to say except: disappeared. “
A trio of golf greats Gary Player, who supported apartheid in his native South Africa, Annika Sorenstam, one of Trump’s supporters, and Babe Didrikson Zacharias, who died in 1956, also received the award last week during of a closed-door ceremony. But that information didn’t garner much attention, arriving as it did 24 hours after a crowd of white nationalists, QAnon cultists, and various Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bloody attempt to prevent the counting of electoral votes – a failed coup instigated by the president.
As his days in power fall to zero, Trump is obviously determined to continue the toastmaster-centric portions of his work, despite a raging pandemic or constitutional crisis. Bill Belichick, famous New England Patriots head coach and longtime friend of the president, will be honored Thursday, according to Politico. That he turns to sports stars as some sort of emotional supportive companion in the lower half of his presidency shouldn’t come as a surprise. Both in times of crisis and relative stability, the President has surrounded himself with purebred jocks and former jocks, whether he uses them as a political punching bag or to reinforce the childish notion of masculinity that pervades it. spans all his life. This despite frequent lies about his own athletic prowess and his propensity to cheat in golf.
Unlike his predecessors, more than half of Presidential Medal of Freedom winners were athletes, often those who donned MAGA hats or had financial ties to the president. This includes Congressman Jim Jordan, who, when he doesn’t shamelessly endorse all the half-cooked talk that emanates from the White House, is best known for turning a blind eye to the sexual assaults of wrestlers he has had. trained at Ohio State University.
Artists, civil rights heroes, activists, scientists, academics, and other luminaries haven’t really caught Trump’s attention, nor does he seem to admire athletes whose accomplishments go far beyond. of the playing field, like Billie Jean King or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. As with the rest of Trump’s tainted tenure, he turned the Presidential Medal of Freedom into a chintzy knockoff, designed to flatter the vanities of one person.
It’s a safe space, you see. It has become all too clear over the past four years that the ceremonial parts of the concert are the only aspects Trump has ever seemed to appreciate or put in much effort. For him, the presidency has never been recorded as more than an endless series of banquets and awards ceremonies where the master of ceremonies is surrounded and towers over such deep-seated equals as worshipers –winners, one and all. And Belichick has long been one of Trump’s sources of success by association, no matter how hard the Patriots coach tries to pretend otherwise.
In 2016, when Trump triumphed in the Massachusetts primary, Belichick moved to Mar-a-Lago to pose for party selfies. (The club member has been a frequent guest at the resort over the years.)
Ahead of the 2016 election, he scribbled a letter offering muffled and shameless approval to then-candidate Trump. Naturally, Trump read it aloud on the stump. It didn’t mean anything, however, according to Belichick, because “I’m not a political person.” At an inaugural gala, the president-elect frequently mentioned Belichick and two other prominent MAGA guys in the Patriots’ locker room: Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft. Once again, questioned, Belichick stood up. “We have a big game,” he said. In the years that followed, as the horrors of the Trump regime took flight, Belichick refused to mention Trump in any way, even when questioned directly. (When the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff invokes his leadership abilities, he will explain at length, however.)
That hasn’t stopped Belichick from accepting a spot on the Presidential Council on Fitness, where he now serves alongside Colby Covington, an MMA fighter who spits racist spit; Jorge Masvidal, a UFC cohort who is all too familiar with the QAnon language; and an accused charlatan television doctor, Mehmet Oz. Unlike Belichick, a bunch of has-beens, disgraced former stars, creeps or shameless deceitful sycophants didn’t feel pressured to pretend there was a lot of light between them and Trump. Renowned college football coach Lou Holtz, who had to apologize for accidentally praising Hitler on the air, was happy to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The same goes for Mariano Rivera, the closer New York Yankees Hall of Fame, whose commitment to Dominionist theology is so steadfast, he will wrap his arms around not just Trump but all manner of pro-Israel supporters. . When those options are lacking, Trump has simply lied about the athletes appearing at the 2016 convention or fabricated endorsements that didn’t exist.
But championship teams have largely avoided the traditional trip to the White House, unwilling to be associated with a revanchist fanatic and a supposedly authoritarian despot. Those who held their noses and followed him often found themselves as auxiliary characters in a stilted, odd, and obviously Trump-branded show. Take the Clemson University football team, which witnessed a takeover after its 2019 national championship. Sadly, the president had organized a totally futile and aimless government shutdown, leaving no staff on. place to manage procedures. Instead, he served a buffet filled with fast food – “their favorite”, Trump asserted at the time. Photos from the gala show Trump beaming from ear to ear, arms akimbo, standing behind a bevy of cholesterol-filled treats.
Still, some members of the student body were wise enough to take a pass. According to The Root, 75% of black players at the school declined the invitation, with three specifically citing Trump as the reason for doing so. Even a relatively normal gathering of the Baylor Women’s College Basketball team that same year was marred by awkward and uncomfortable moments and another round of burgers and fries.
If you need more evidence of how important his association with sport is to Trump’s identity, look no further than his response to the PGA snatching the 2022 championship from his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, a announces who would have left the president “emptied”.
Belichick’s participation on Thursday remains an open question. Reached by phone, an official in the Patriots’ media relations department replied, “I don’t think so,” when asked if the team were planning to issue a statement. The official then ordered the Daily Beast to send an email formally requesting comment and an interview with their head coach. The Patriots did not respond until the post.
A man of integrity, someone who actually deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom, would reject Trump outright. (Again, a worthy recipient would never have had a girlfriend with Trump in the first place.) If nothing else, it makes for such a grim coda.
In their two decades of dominance, the Belichick Patriots have never received many consequences for bending or even outright breaking NFL rules. In fact, they have been almost universally praised, the examples of cheating dismissed as whining by mere haters and losers. If there is justice, Trump will never be able to say the same thing.
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