There was Mother Teresa, ‘‘a heroine of our times,’’ and Rosa Parks, ‘‘a living icon for freedom in America.’’ Elie Wiesel kept ‘‘watch against the forces of hatred,’’ while Jackie Robinson ‘‘struck a mighty blow for equality, freedom, and the American way of life.’’
Now, joining them and other recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award bestowed by the government on a civilian, is Rush Limbaugh, ‘‘the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.’’
Limbaugh, the combative and often-profane talk-radio giant who helped mold a form of loud and brash conservatism for decades, appeared surprised when President Trump announced the honor in the middle of his State of the Union address Tuesday.
The unusual moment came days after Limbaugh, 69, announced he had been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer.
‘‘Rush Limbaugh, thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country,’’ Trump said.
Liberals were outraged, much to the glee of Limbaugh’s many admirers on the right.
But before first lady Melania Trump could finish draping the medal around Limbaugh’s neck, critics of the talk-show host began to recirculate online some of the most derogatory and inflammatory remarks he’s made over the course of his career against women (whom he has regularly labeled ‘‘feminazis”), Black people, Native Americans, immigrants, and the disabled community, among others.
They pointed to the time Limbaugh — a divisive media figure who has been accused of racist and sexist remarks — called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a ‘‘slut’’ and a ‘‘prostitute’’ because of her support of women’s access to birth control. And when he promoted the debunked birther claim that President Obama was not born in the United States. And when he questioned why Native Americans would be upset about their forced removal and ethnic cleansing since ‘‘they all have casinos.’’ And when he compared asylum seekers coming to the US border to the invasion of Normandy. And when he said that actor Michael J. Fox was faking the symptoms of his Parkinson’s disease.
Parkland dad apologizes for State of the Union outburst
The father of a student killed in the 2018 Florida high school massacre apologized Wednesday for disrupting President Trump’s State of the Union address by shouting as the president said the rights of gun owners are under siege.
Fred Guttenberg was escorted from the gallery by security officers Tuesday night after shouting about his slain daughter Jaime just after the president said, “So long as I am president, I will always protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.” The audience turned and looked up at the ruckus as he was led out.
“I let my emotions get the best of me,” Guttenberg tweeted early Wednesday. “I simply want to be able to deal with the reality of gun violence and not have to listen to lies” about the Second Amendment.
‘‘That said, I should not have yelled out. I am thankful for the overwhelming support I am receiving. However, I do owe my family and friends an apology. I have tried to conduct myself with dignity throughout this process and I will do better as I pursue gun safety,’’ tweeted Guttenberg, who was a guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Jaime Guttenberg, an aspiring dancer and gymnast, was 14 when she died with 16 others in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Her brother fled the shooting physically uninjured.
Fred Guttenberg, a 54-year-old real estate agent, has since become an outspoken advocate against gun violence. His group, “Orange Ribbons for Jaime,” pushes for a law named for her that would require that purchasers pass a universal background check before buying ammunition.
Trump facing numerous demands for evidence in defamation suit
President Trump is facing “numerous and burdensome” demands for evidence in a defamation lawsuit brought by an advice columnist who says he raped her two decades ago, his lawyers said in a filing asking a judge to put the case on hold.
E. Jean Carroll, who went public with her claims in June, is seeking documents and a DNA sample from the president. Carroll said she believes Trump’s DNA may match a sample from the dress or shoes she wore the day of the alleged attack. She says Trump defamed her by denying the incident.
Trump’s lawyers said in a filing Tuesday in Manhattan that Carroll’s case should be suspended until the state’s highest court decides whether the president can be sued while in office. The New York Court of Appeals will consider that issue in a similar suit by Summer Zervos, a former reality-TV contestant who says Trump sexually assaulted her.
“DNA technology is so advanced that all we are seeking with respect to DNA at this point is a 3-second Q-tip swab from inside his mouth,” Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement.
Carroll alleges Trump assaulted her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman luxury department store in Manhattan in 1995 or 1996 after she bumped into him while shopping. Zervos says Trump assaulted her at a private dinner meeting more than a decade ago in Beverly Hills.
Trump name no longer on 2 Florida condo buildings
President Trump’s name adorned the tops of two tall condo buildings in West Palm Beach, Fla., for more than two decades But now it’s gone and won’t be returning, the Palm Beach Post reported Tuesday.
The buildings once bore large signs reading ‘‘Trump Plaza,’’ although they haven’t been affiliated with Trump’s company since 1991. The signs came down in late 2017 for cleaning, and the Palm Beach Post reported that residents voted 178-20 to not put them back.
Since Trump took office, at least nine buildings have removed his name from their facades — including six residential buildings in New York and hotels in Toronto, Panama, and Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.