THE SPINE AUGUST 12, 2009
As I write, the moral and intellectual scandal of Barack Obama bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Mary Robinson is about to take place in the White House.
I actually had thought that there was nothing more to say about this.
But Charles (Chuck) Lane, once editor of TNR, who usually has a fresh view on what others already thought old-hat, wrote a column in this morning's Washington Post that proves otherwise. The Jewish and Israeli aspects of this prize have been amply covered, not only here but almost everywhere else. And it is especially curious that so very few individuals of any stature have come out in defense of this award to Mrs. Robinson. Even Chas Freeman had more defenders in the first of the cases in which the president did not truly think hating Israel disqualified someone from either public office or public honors.
Chuck recognizes this. But his particular points are two. One is that she is just mediocre. It is not a hard point to prove. She is, as Lane says, mostly talk, talk, talk.
His second point is more important. The fact is that Mary Robinson has been an adversary of the United States. She was even against President Clinton's policies that ended the Yugoslav wars and brought respite and some peace to the Muslim Kosovars.
Of course, since I live in Cambridge, I know some people who would approve of Mrs. Robinson's honors. But that's another matter.