Mary Robinson: “You Just Don’t Understand!”


Tevi Troy, who finished a two-term career working for George W. Bush as his deputy health secretary, has a sharp post up at NRO’s The Corner about Mary Robinson’s continued capacity for self-delusion.

Robinson’s insistence on "Durban wuz allright" even after the controversy stirred by her Medal of Freedom, casts not just her judgment in unflattering light, but the White House’s as well. It’s not just the vetting, it’s that whoever made this recommendation must have had an idea of her incredible obtuseness.

Anyway, here’s Tevi:

In response to a series of questions about her role in the 2001 Durban “anti-racism” conference — a conference boycotted by the U.S. and Israel because it helped give rise to vile anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric — she continually fell back on the same series of talking points designed to make it appear as if her critics don’t understand what went on there. Robinson said that “there’s a wonderful story about Durban waiting to be told” and that she is waiting for an “objective” and “proper evaluation” of what happened at Durban by “someone who knows how the U.N. works.” I am not sure what she is getting at, as I would think that the less people looked into Durban, the better off she would be. As for the comment about finding “someone who knows how the U.N. works” to tell the story of Durban, that sounds to me like code for someone who shares the U.N. perspective on things, a perspective that is far more critical of liberal democracies than of autocratic nations. In short, it is the very perspective that ensured Durban would spin out of control.

Tevi is referring to this CBS interview.

His evisceration is nice and tidy, but let me add that she frets that the flurry after Sept. 11 attacks kept the "truth" about Durban from emerging. What a narcissist.

In the same interview, Charles Lane, a Washington Post analyst, makes the point that what makes the award so offensive is her, for lack of a better term, undistinguishedness. Another awardee, Desmond Tutu has not been merely obtuse, he has crossed the line to anti-Israelism, and veered close to anti-Semitism. But he also was a real hero in the struggle against Apartheid. Notice how mostly he escaped censure. Robinson was a bureaucrat, and not a particularly effective one at that, considering Durban’s debacle. What did she risk?

Finally, let me tweak Tevi a little: He ends his post  with a partisan flourish, which is fine —

[Lane says] “I don’t see what’s so special about Mary Robinson," Perhaps Lane doesn’t, but the president does, and he has now diminished this nation’s highest civilian honor by sharing it with her.

— but I don’t know if I’d pick this fight in Medal of Freedom territory. Tevi’s old boss didn’t even bother to bury his most controversial awardees among a dozen worthies: On Dec. 14 2004, he named only three awardees: L. Paul Bremer, General Tommy Franks, George Tenet.

That these three men were profoundly undistinguished in how they pursued the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their aftermaths is no longer even a matter of partisan controversy.

Recommended from JTA