Readers of these pages will know well of my many references to my accomplished friend Nell Minow, and my occasional pieces (like here and here and also here) about her father, the eminently accomplished Newton Minow, the former chairman of the FCC under President Kennedy, who coined the now-famous phrased calling TV a "Vast Wasteland" and who helped create the first televised presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon. And who was the first political mentor back in Chicago for one of the young lawyers at his Sidley-Austin firm, a fellow named Barack Obama -- who later married another lawyer at the firm, Michelle Robinson.
It turns out that, today, President Obama has returned the favor. And on a list of 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of those named was Newton Minow.
The timing is good, given that Mr. Obama only had a few months to go in office. And before all hell breaks loose. So, it's nice to see some grace and sanity in the final act.
That one of President Obama's law school professors at Harvard was Martha Minow, another of Newt's daughters,and now president of Harvard Law, who had called her father to say he should hire this fellow named Barack Obama because he was one of the smartest students she'd ever taught, was perhaps a good point in Newton Minow's favor, as well.
I know my dad would have been thrilled, too, since they were poker buddies, and one of my dad's patients, even occasionally still calling for medical advice after moving to Washington.
It's an auspicious list of medal recipients Among those other 20 citizens who will have to share the spotlight with Newton Minow are Michael Jordan, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Bill and Melinda Gates, architect Frank Gehry, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Redford and several others...like Vin Scully, Robert DeNiro, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, educator Eduardo Paron and more.
It is my hope that the eldest daughter of a recipient gets to give a speech at the event.