Former Sen. Richard Lugar, (R-Ind.) (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Former Sen. Richard Lugar, (R-Ind.) (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Seemed only appropriate that President Obama put the Medal of Freedom on former Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) Wednesday afternoon, lauding “his visionary work, the destruction of Cold War arsenals in the former Soviet Union.”

Obama said he would “always be thankful to Dick for taking me — a new, junior senator — under his wing” in their “travels together” to that region.

“Now, I should say,” Obama added, that “traveling with Dick, you get close to unexploded landmines, mortar shells, test tubes filled with anthrax and the plague. ” Lugar’s legacy was “the thousands of missiles and bombers and submarines and warheads that no longer threaten us,” Obama said, and “our nation and our world are safer because of this statesman. And in a time of unrelenting partisanship, Dick Lugar’s decency, his commitment to bipartisan problem-solving, stand as a model of what public service ought to be”

The award seemed especially fitting given that Lugar was trounced in his Senate primary last year by tea party Republican Richard Mourdock, who criticized his “globe-trotting”  ways and called Lugar  “Obama’s favorite Republican.” (Of course, it didn’t help that Lugar no longer maintained a home in Indiana.)

And Lugar’s loss enabled the Democrats, who long ago had pretty much given up trying to defeat the six-term GOP senator, to finally win that seat.