Jake Tapper had the following exchange with Robert Gibbs:
TAPPER: OK. And AIPAC just issued a statement saying they’re deeply disappointed by the Obama administration’s choice to award a presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, and they respectfully call on the administration to firmly, fully and publicly repudiate her views on Israel and her long public record of hostility and one-sided bias against the Jewish state. Do you guys have any comment about that or any other protest you’ve heard from Jewish groups?
GIBBS: Well, look, Mary Robinson was the first female president of Ireland, and she is somebody whom we are honoring as a prominent crusader of women’s rights in Ireland and throughout the world. There are statements that obviously that she has made that the president doesn’t agree with, and that’s probably true for a number of the people that the president is recognizing for their lifetime contributions.
Well, that’s not very convincing, is it? The White House’s own description of Mary Robinson in its announcement describes her as follows:
Mary Robinson was the first female President of Ireland (1990 – 1997) and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997 – 2002), a post that required her to end her presidency four months early. Robinson served as a prominent member of the Irish Senate prior to her election as President. She continues to bring attention to international issues as Honorary President of Oxfam International, and Chairs the Board of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI Alliance). Since 2002 she has been President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, based in New York, which is an organization she founded to make human rights the compass which charts a course for globalization that is fair, just and benefits all.
Perhaps Gibbs confused her with Billie Jean King, who was identified as a “champion of gender equality.”
Plainly, this is damage control — hasty and unbelievable. If Obama wanted to find another champion of gender equality, he surely could have come up with someone who was not so offensive to the Jewish community and did not have a track record — not merely “some statements” — that reflects an anti-Israel perspective. And if the Obama administration is claiming to have missed this central facet of her career, then the White House is far more incompetent than we ever suspected.