Friday, June 30, 2006

Medals Schmedals

Former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton will share the 2006 Liberty Medal. The award annually honors those who "demonstrated leadership and vision in the pursuit of liberty of conscience or freedom from oppression, ignorance, or deprivation." (Poppy and Willie free of conscience? I'll buy that.)

The former leaders will accept the medal and its accompanying $100,000 prize on Oct. 5 at the National Constitution Center.

The "medal" was established in 1988 by a group calling themselves We the People 2000 which I found nothing much on other than it is/was a private group of civic and business figures. I'm not into numerology but naming the group 2000 in the year 1988 struck me as odd.

Winners are chosen by the International Selection Commission. I wonder who chooses the members of the Commission?

Previous Winners:
2005 Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko
2004 Afghan President, Hamid Karzai
2003 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
2002 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
2001 U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan
2000 Dr. James Watson/Dr. Francis Crick (joint prize)
1999 South Korean President Kim Dae Jung
1998 Irish Peace Negotiator and Retired U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell
1997 CNN International
1996 King Hussein 1/Shimon Peres (joint prize)
1995 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata
1994 Czech President Václav Havel
1993 F.W. de Klerk/Nelson Mandela (joint prize)
1992 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall
1991 Former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and the French medical and human rights organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) (joint prize)
1990 Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
1989 Polish Solidarity founder and later Polish President Lech Walesa

The International Selection Commission is made up of leaders from government, world affairs, education, culture, and business. The current members of the Commission are:

Martin Meyerson, Commission Chairman, President Emeritus and University Professor, University of Pennsylvania, Honorary President, International Association of Universities, Paris, UN advisor, board member of Panasonic Foundation, chairman Marconi Foundation (Marty has been Commission Chairman of the "award" since day 1);
Oscar Arias, former President of Costa Rica, Nobel Peace laureate, 1991 Liberty Medal co-recipient;
Joanne de Asis, of the Philippines, Chairman, Globe Capital Partners;
William H. Gray III, former President, College Fund/UNCF and former U.S. Representative;
Peter Harf, former CEO, Joh. A. Benckiser, GmbH, Frankfurt;
Shirley Hufstedler, Esq., first U.S. Secretary of Education;
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, American Enterprise Institute and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations;
Robert McNamara, former President, Ford Motor Company and World Bank and former U.S. cabinet member;
Mary Patterson McPherson, Vice President, Mellon Foundation, former President, Bryn Mawr College;
Andrea L. Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC;
Joseph Neubauer, Chairman and CEO, ARAMARK Corporation;
Ambassador Olara A. Otunnu, U.N. High Commissioner for Children in War, former Foreign Minister of Uganda and former head of the United Nations Security Council; Ambassador Hisashi Owada, President, The Japan Institute of International Affairs and former Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations;
P. Anthony Ridder, Chairman, President & CEO, Knight-Ridder, Inc.;
Jerome Shestack, Esq., Past President, American Bar Association;
Adele Simmons, former President, MacArthur Foundation;
Maurice F. Strong, Senior Advisor to the President, World Bank and Chairman, Earth Council;
Richard Thornburgh, Esq., former U.S. Attorney General and former Governor of Pennsylvania;
Henry Wendt, former Chairman, SmithKline Beecham.

It's all rather like boy scout badges but more highfalutin with cash rewards. An orgy of media, corporate, foundation, university, and government heads – working hard to liberate us of conscience … or something like that.

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