News & Politics

House Republicans Want to Give Trump a Congressional Gold Medal. How Does He Compare to Past Awardees?

George Washington, Thomas Edison, Jonas Salk, Mother Teresa—and Donald Trump.

Some Republicans want to award Donald Trump a Congressional Gold Medal. Photograph by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

You have to hand it to House Republicans, who never stop working to address the most important issue facing our nation: Is Donald Trump being sufficiently celebrated by the federal government? A few weeks ago, a group of House GOPers introduced legislation that would rename Dulles Airport after the 2020 presidential election loser; on Tuesday, a handful of lawmakers led by Florida Representative Anna Paulina Luna offered a resolution that would award Trump the Congressional Gold Medal.

Citing Trump’s “exceptional leadership” and “dedication to strengthening America’s diplomatic relations,” the resolution proposes to give the former president the country’s oldest and highest expression of public gratitude for distinguished contributions in a wide range of areas; inexplicably, it does not mention social media posting or reality television.

It’s highly unlikely Trump will receive the honor: each medal is unique, cast by the US Mint, and requires Congress to pass a specific law to create it; moreover, just getting the appropriate House and Senate committees to consider an awardee requires supermajority support in both chambers. That said, how does Trump compare to past recipients of the award? Let’s take a closer look:

 

Presidential Leadership

George Washington: First-ever medal recipient adorns $1 bills, inspired the majestic Washington Monument, and famously could not tell a lie.

Donald Trump: Helpfully put his name on pandemic relief checks, inspired majestic works of art, and lied less than 30,574 times during his presidency.

 

Achievements in Aviation

Wright Brothers: First in flight, the 1909 medal recipients invented the airplane. 

Donald Trump: Founded a luxury airline that failed to: a) make money; b) publish a planned in-flight magazine all about Donald Trump.

 

Health and Medicine

Jonas Salk: Virologist and 1955 medal recipient developed one of the first successful polio vaccines—and did not patent or attempt to profit from it.

Donald Trump: Suggested that sunlight and disinfectants such as bleach could be used to treat coronavirus infections. 

 

American Letters

Robert Frost: Poet and 1960 medal recipient won four Pulitzer Prizes.

Donald Trump: Retweeted a fake quote from a fake book—“I was never one who looked at success as bad for me. Success was always good. I loved it and still do,” from Winning—made up by the writer David Roth.

 

Charitable Works

Mother Teresa: Catholic nun and 1997 medal recipient ministered to the poorest of the poor in India and elsewhere, creating a congregation of more than 4,000 managing orphanages and care centers worldwide.

Donald Trump: Distributed* nearly $500,000 each to a group of eight nonprofits including the United Negro College Fund and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

* As part of a settlement with the New York State Attorney General for using his own charitable foundation to promote his 2016 presidential bid, pay off business debts, and purchase a portrait of himself.

 

Athletic Prowess

Joe Louis: Professional boxer and 1982 medal recipient was heavyweight champion of the world; absolutely thumped German boxer and Nazi propaganda hero Max Schmeling in what was arguably the most politically and culturally significant sporting event of the 20th century; even helped racially integrate professional golf.

Donald Trump: Was such an outstanding high school baseball player that he played squash at Fordham University.

 

Innovation and Ideas

Thomas Edison: Inventor and 1928 medal recipient created the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and an early version of the lightbulb.

Donald Trump: Owns 114 trademarks in China, including ones for business opportunities in video games, lash extensions, deodorant, and, uh, nautical instruments.

 

Religious Commitment

The Dali Lama: The 2006 medal recipient is, in fact, the freakin’ Dali Lama.

Donald Trump: Is a paid endorser for $59.99 copies of the Bible.

 

Racial Justice

Rosa Parks: Civil rights activist and 1999 medal recipient refused to give up her bus seat for white passenger, inspiring the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Donald Trump: Reportedly considering using Civil Rights-era laws to target “anti-white racism”—like the National Football League’s “Rooney Rule”—during a potential second presidential term.

 

Musical Contributions

Irving Berlin: Famed composer and 1954 medal recipient wrote White Christmas, No Business Like Show Business, and God Bless America.

Donald Trump: Appeared in the video for the lead single on the Ghostbusters II soundtrack.

National Security

US Capitol Police and DC Metro Police: The 2021 medal recipients protected the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection. 

Donald Trump:

Patrick Hruby
Deputy Editor