After former President Barack Obama revealed that he never gave Dolly Parton the Presidential Medal of Freedom because he assumed she already had one, Parton revealed that she was asked to receive the honor twice by former President Donald Trump's administration, though she had to turn them down both times. Now, she has the potential to receive a medal from President Joe Biden, though the country icon isn't sure she'll accept the honor this time either.
"I couldn't accept it because my husband was ill and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn't travel because of the COVID," Parton told Today, adding that she has heard from Biden about the award, the nation's highest civilian honor. "Now I feel like if I take it, I'll be doing politics, so I'm not sure," she said, adding, "But I don't work for those awards. It'd be nice but I'm not sure that I even deserve it. But it's a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it."
"I think everyone thinks you might deserve it," Hoda Kotb told Parton. In addition to her decades-long music career, Parton has also acted, started her own theme park and been involved in numerous philanthropic causes including her Imagination Library. Last year, she donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University for research into a cure for COVID-19, a contribution that was partially used to fund the Moderna vaccine currently being distributed.
During an interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Colbert asked Obama why Parton doesn't have a Presidential Medal of Freedom. "That's a mistake, I'm shocked," the former POTUS replied. "That was a screw-up. I'm surprised." Obama explained that he had "assumed that she had already got one, and that was incorrect." "She deserves one," he said, adding that he'll "call Biden."
Parton has long avoided discussing politics, having explained that she prefers not to do so because of her job as an entertainer. "I am not being political. I don't do politics. I'm not getting into any of that. Because I have a lot of fans out there and I don't want to offend anybody," she said during a 2018 interview on ABC's Nightline. "And besides, I don't get into that. And so, if you are deciding you may want to ask me something more serious, don't. Because I am not going to answer it."
"Of course I have my opinion about everybody and everything, but I learned a long time ago to keep your damn mouth shut if you want to stay in show business," she added. "I'm not in politics. I'm an entertainer."