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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mary Robinson: Obama's choice

In this post, I discussed whether Medal of Freedom recipient Mary Robinson was not properly vetted by the White House, or whether choosing her was a deliberate act by the Obama administration. Jennifer Rubin supplies a strong argument that President Obama deliberately chose Mary Robinson.
Neither Durban nor Robinson’s UN tenure is incidental to her career. Moreover, her rhetoric and outlook bear an uncanny resemblance to the approach taken by the Obama administration. Obama is full of invective and regret for America’s actions—be they in the war on terror or in our historic record of dealing with Iran and Central America. As for human-rights outrages in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, or China, he has been largely, if not entirely, mute. No wonder Robinson was selected.

And on Israel itself, Robinson’s elevation of Palestinian suffering without context or reference to their contribution to their own misery echoes both candidate Obama (who decried that no people had suffered as the Palestinians had) and President Obama at Cairo (who elevated the Palestinian cause to the same plane as the horrors of the Holocaust).

One can’t help but conclude that Robinson was chosen precisely because and not in spite of her worldview, which differs not that appreciably from Obama’s.
Rick Richman gives another two arguments that Robinson's selection was purposeful:
Ed Lasky has marshaled a lot of evidence indicating that the person responsible for selecting and/or vetting Robinson was the president’s close friend and White House adviser Samantha Power [I didn't realize that Samantha "Let's send troops to force Israel to create a 'Palestinian' state" Power was a close friend of Obama's and not just a professional adviser. That ought to give pause to those of us in the pro-Israel community. CiJ], who would likely have been familiar with Robinson’s background. Robinson’s record at Durban did not, in any event, need a background check; it was in the foreground of her public record (see Tom Lantos’s lengthy Durban report). It was not a hidden tax problem but a known quality deemed not disqualifying given the larger problem to be solved by the nomination.

What was that problem? In an important 7,345-word post (with a 1,700-word follow-up), Catherine Fitzpatrick—who was at Durban I and watched Robinson’s performance there, and who is both her defender and her critic—says the nomination was “an effort to deflect criticism of the United States coming furiously from some leftist groups for the U.S. decision not to participate in the follow-up conference in Durban in April.” She concludes that “at the end of the day, the Obama Administration chose Mary Robinson because they felt she was one of their own.”

Fitzpatrick’s post is a revealing picture of the swamp into which the international human-rights movement has descended, typified by the UN Human Rights Council that George W. Bush shunned because of its membership and its anti-Israel agenda, and which Barack Obama joined with no real hope of changing—a course of action Obama affirmed (and wanted to be seen as affirming) by giving Robinson the highest civilian honor in the United States.

The administration is thus not likely to explain the Robinson nomination by blaming poor vetting, because the vetting was not poor. The president is not likely to criticize the views of the nominee, because the criticism would jeopardize the purpose of the nomination. There will likely be no explanation or criticism at all. On the contrary, the administration will be pleased to remain silent as its media allies tell Jewish leaders the appropriate reaction is to express “disappointment”—and shut up.
Richman goes on to say that Robinson is not exclusively a Jewish issue. Given the extent to which Israel was THE topic at the Durban conference and continues to be THE topic at the 'Human Rights Council,' that argument sounds pretty weak to me.

Ironically, the best argument for Robinson's selection being the result of poor vetting is the lousy job the Obama administration did of vetting various nominees for high positions in the administration earlier this year. If they screwed up once twice three times (and more) it is conceivable that they could have screwed up again. Conceivable, but looking less and less likely.

And unfortunately, the only people who seem to care about this issue are Israelis, right-wing bloggers and Robinson herself.

The medal presentation is Wednesday. Is anyone even going to protest?


At 5:56 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

She's Obumbler's choice... and as the old saying has it - the buck stops at his desk. With the Mary Robinson nomination, he can't vote "present" on it.

Hopenchange, any one?


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