At a White House ceremony today, President George W. Bush awards Norman Podhoretz the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our country’s highest civilian honor.
The official White House release announcing the award says, “Norman Podhoretz has been at the forefront of American intellectual thought for the last half-century, as the longtime editor-in-chief of Commentary magazine, and as a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.”
That only begins to tell the Norman Podhoretz story.
He was at the helm of Commentary from 1960 until 1995–how’s that for loyalty?–where he made the magazine a must-read and a catalyst for change, both in the world of ideas, and in many an individual’s life. While there–in the late Sixties–Podhoretz became one of the original neoconservatives, moving rightward as the Left refused to “get” the Communist threat.
Norman Podhoretz is a book author many times over. Among them: Why We Were in Vietnam, Bloody Crossroads, Ex-Friends, My Love Affair With America, and The Prophets. And if you need the executive summary of sorts–or only have time right now for a quick recap: This year, the world was treated to The Norman Podhoretz Reader.
And in addition to all that–and besides being a top-notch human being–Podhoretz has also been a long-time friend and contributor to National Review (and NRO!), proving, of course, his exquisite taste. A lifelong New Yorker, he also showed perfect taste when he married Midge Decter (no slacker herself–she won the National Humanities Medal late last year!).
Norman Podhoretz is awarded the medal this year in an ecumenical group of 12: Other honorees include Pope John Paul II, who received his earlier this month in Rome, former Wall Street Journal editorial-page editor, the late Robert Bartley, golfer Arnold Palmer, actress Doris Day, cosmetics giant Estée Lauder, Gordon Hinkley, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Walter Wriston, the former Citbank chief and Manhattan Institute patron.
We congratulate all the winners and celebrate our friend, Norman, especially, with a few glimpses of him from the National Review archives today on NRO.