Tevi Troy, who served as Jewish liaision and as a domestic policy adviser in the George W. Bush White House, is wondering how Mary Robinson became one of President Obama’s 16 choices to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom next month. Her tenure as United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees during the 2001 Durban conference, and Jewish groups believe she did not do enough to deter the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel actions at the conference. Troy, writing at National Review’s The Corner, asks: Didn’t White House advisers know this?:
Robinson’s record is well known to most Jews with even a passing familiarity with the Jewish media. It cannot be a surprise that honoring Robinson in this way would be anathema to the Jewish community. In addition, I know from having worked in the White House that these selections go through extremely careful vetting of public and non-public databases to make sure that they would not embarrass the president in any way. The staff secretary’s office, which clears all paperwork that goes to the president, would also make sure that all of the relevant offices sign off on important selections before they happen. The two most important sign offs on something like the Medal of Freedom would be the chief of staff’s office, now headed by Rahm Emanuel, and the senior advisor’s office, now run by David Axelrod. For the Obama White House to have made this selection could mean one of only two possibilities: that they did not vet and clear the candidates, which suggests a level of incompetence beyond even missing tax evasions by cabinet nominees. Uncaught tax evasion does not come up on Google; Robinson’s record does. The other, more likely, possibility is that they knew and did not care.
The Bush 41 White House became infamous in the Jewish community for James Baker’s comment “F the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway.” The Obama administration’s approach appears to be: “F the Jews, they’re going to vote for us anyway.”