The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to an individual (regardless of nationality) for "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Which apparently includes neither Senator Ted Kennedy or author JK Rowling.
[President Bush's chief speechwriter] Marc [Thiessen] liked to encourage a broad range of opinions from others, so long as theirs agreed with his. When Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I suggested that the president might at least consider awarding Kennedy the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Marc objected with the genteel diplomacy he was known for.It's hard to tell what the real motivation of the decision was - were they worried that honoring the author would offend the millions of fundamentalist Christian voters whom the administration had built their political base off of, or did born-agains within the administration actually take great issue with the Harry Potter novels?
'That's crazy!' he thundered. Kennedy was a liberal, he noted (of which I was well aware). ...This was the same sort of narrow thinking that led people in the White House to actually object to giving the author J.K. Rowling a presidential medal because the Harry Potter books encouraged witchcraft.
In any case, the article then goes on to point out how entirely coincidental it is that only those who supported the Iraq War seemed to be awarded the medal while Bush was in office.