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Medal of Freedom

Not the guys on the left. The babe on the right.

Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House writes that new candidates for the Presidential Medal of Freedom are in line for an award that has been tarnished.

Ever since George Tenet won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the award seems to have lost some of its luster. It’s much like the Nobel Peace Prize; once you have given the award to someone who exhibits the exact opposite qualities that should be recognized, all credibility in the prize is lost.

In awarding the medal to Mr. Tenet, as well as to Paul Bremer and Tommy Franks, Mr. Bush has used the honor to lay down covering fire for incompetent underlings he hopes won't write embarrassing tell-all books. There's very little that Mr. Bush touches that he does not also cheapen.

So. I have a suggestion for a recipient who will return the medal to the prestige it deserves. My nominee is a genuine crusader for science. She worked tirelessly to advance our understanding of language, and our connection to non-human species.

It would have to be posthumous award, because Washoe the chimp died on Tuesday.

[Washoe] died in bed at age 42, surrounded by staff members and other primates who had been close to her . . .

Washoe never screwed up vital intelligence. She never botched an occupation. She never cravenly went along with incompetent superiors to advance her own career.

Washoe was a hero of science who was paid in fruit. She fascinated and inspired hundreds of thousands of children, some of whom will surely enter scientific fields because of her work. And she apparently liked shoes.

“She always checked out your shoes, and if you had new ones she’d sign for you to show them to her,” Dr. Jensvold said. “Then she might sign something about the color. She was a real shoe lady that way.”

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