The timing of the event — on the eve of the first anniversary of the Benghazi attacks — turned out to be as ticklish for Bush as it was for Clinton. When the award was announced in June, Rush Limbaugh erupted.
“It’s bad enough the woman is getting this award,” he said. “Then to find out that someone who is touted as a Republican presidential candidate is going to be presenting it to her because he runs this organization?”
The National Review’s Jim Geraghty tweeted earlier this month, “Awarding a ‘Liberty Medal’ to Hillary pretty much destroys the Jeb Bush 2016 talk, doesn’t it?”
This is a pathetic commentary on the state of civil discourse in 2013. The award went jointly to Bush’s father and Clinton’s husband in 2006, and to a predecessor as secretary of state, Colin Powell, in 2002 with nary a peep. But such is the remarkable depth of Hillary hatred — and Hillary fear.
Tellingly, Bush — in contrast to the practice at previous ceremonies and the original announcement that he would make the award — left that honor to Constitution Center President Jeffrey Rosen. No incriminating photos.
Others were less skittish. University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann referenced “something many of us can’t wait to celebrate — the first woman president of the United States.” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Democrat, predicted that “she will be the first first lady to walk back into the White House in her own right as president of the United States of America — and I assume that she’ll take President Clinton along with her.”
Although Hillary Clinton noted that her husband had just enjoyed one of his “annual play dates” with Bush 41 in Kennebunkport, Bill Clinton was intriguingly absent from the festivities, in person and on the lavish video tributes.
Syria, though Clinton touched on it only glancingly in her remarks, was front and center, the unavoidable subtext with President Obama’s address looming. Anti-intervention protesters chanted through Clinton’s speech. “This debate is good for our democracy,” she said in a nod to the demonstrators and the broader, unhappy public. Looking out on the site of the Constitutional Convention, she invoked the Framers’ struggle to balance the “need to provide for a common defense with their fears of excessive executive power.”