President Obama speaks before presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to 21 recipients during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Nov. 22. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Does President Obama have another crush?

At a Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, POTUS concluded his tribute to actress Cicely Tyson’s career with what sounded like an off-the-cuff remark: “And she’s just gorgeous — she is!”

The president told the crowd that he “loves” medal ceremonies, and his jovial tone (his greeting: “Hello, hello, hey!”) made his claim obvious. His admiration of Tyson follows a pattern — at the last such event, he similarly fan-girled on actress Meryl Streep.

Tyson was one of 21 artists, scientists, philanthropists and others to collect some hardware, a celeb-studded list that included Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Ellen DeGeneres, Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen (of whom Obama said “I’m the president, but he’s the Boss”). “They are extraordinary Americans who have lifted our spirits, strengthened our union and pushed us toward progress,” Obama said of the honorees.

Obama mostly heaped praise on the recipients, but he did sneak in a little teasing, like when he referred to NBA legend Michael Jordan a “character actor … from Space Jam” or teased De Niro for his many roles as mobsters. As he gave Kareem Abdul-Jabbar his medal, he mimicked the athlete’s signature hook shot.

The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor and is presented to people who have contributed to “security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”