Trump Doesn’t Rule the National Constitution Center Stage

Natalie Gulbis, Jeannette Rankin, Lenny Dykstra, Tim McGraw, Marisa Tomei, Mary-Louise Parker, Celine Dion, Greg Louganis, Buckwheat Zydeco, Doug Flutie, Jennifer Hudson, Oprah Winfrey, Eliza Dushku, Ed Norton, Jesse Ventura, Bradley Cooper, Molly Ringwald, Eli Manning, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marina Abramovic, Tucker Carlson, Robert Redford, Condoleezza Rice, Tom Brokaw, Hillary Clinton, Gwen Ifill, Nikki Haley, Vanna White, Jane Fonda, Sylvester Stallone, Chris Burden, Rick Tyler, Mitch Pearlstein, Barbara Boxer, Sarah Palin, Jeff Bezos, George Soros, David Plouffe, Fred Armisen, Gabby Giffords, Dick Cheney, Doug Aamoth, Pauly Shore, Warren Buffett, Karl Rove, Steven Spielberg, Margot Kidder, George Lucas, Richard Childress, Billy Bob Thornton, John Wayne, Tom Brokaw, Ann Coulter, Steve Schmidt, Lea Michele, Brett Favre, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood, Glen Campbell, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Cheney, Barbara Kellerman, Rick Santorum, Dennis Ross, Maya Angelou, Leonard Cohen, Diana Ross, Meryl Streep, Forest Whitaker, Ted Nugent, George W

Bush, and Gordon Brown each earned applause with a single, emphatic word from Stephen Colbert at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia last night: Courage More than 400 of the most politically active Americans in the country—Independents, Democrats, Republicans, Independents—were honored for their dedication to the ideals of the American Constitution. Julian Hernandez, president of New America, the D. C. -based non-profit that sponsors and promotes the Patriot Awards, did a verbal cannonball, going for eight words of approval from each honoree. Gulbis, a Hall of Fame golfer, read aloud a letter from her late mother about how her love for her family and playing golf brought her some measure of success. Rankin, a seven-term Republican from Montana, broke down as she noted how Bill Clinton had defined what it means to be American, which had shaped her perspective and made her fearless in taking up arms when she ran for Congress and winning.

Then Denis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff, noted that Democrats had suffered several humiliating defeats in Republican-leaning districts in the 2018 midterms McGraw, the country music legend, promised to return to politics and tried his hand at a mouthful, declaring with a flourish, “We the people make America,” that was followed by McCain in a moving tribute. Tomei and Duhamel each delivered three words of praise for Faith Hill. On-air host Elliott Lauer, former host of the Today show and NBC News anchor, delivered a stirring tribute to his former boss, “Our love for this man is a lesson we can share,” he said. Dylan Ratigan, host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, presented best picture to Bob Costa, a journalist from POLITICO.

Chuck Todd, anchor of NBC News’ Meet the Press, an independent who also works for MSNBC, spoke at length about his editor, Michael Scherer, a veteran reporter for TIME who is now a White House correspondent for POLITICO Carly Fiorina, 2012 GOP presidential candidate, described her friend and colleague, Judge Roy Moore, “The people’s moral justice warrior,” who was sentenced to seven years in federal prison last week for his conviction on child molestation charges. The highlight of the night came in a tribute to Hillary Clinton, which was introduced by none other than Cher. “Hillary Clinton has been my president,” Cher said. “She was elected on a ticket with a third-party candidate,” she explained. She launched into “Believe” by Diane Warren.

For a few moments Clinton sat almost hypnotized Then she rose from her seat to embrace the other honorees. “I hope I remember you when we cross the chasm again,” she said. Hillary Clinton, a leading recipient of awards like these, continues to be lionized across the country as a humanitarian and a fierce advocate for women and girls. But is she really the best person to be honored for patriotism? In his opening monologue, Colbert paid tribute to the real heroes of the evening, and singled out the audience members and performers. “If Donald Trump were here, I think he would protest,�.

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