Skip to comments.Helen Thomas: Bush a Work in Progress
Posted on 01/26/2002 8:27:21 PM PST by SkyPilot
White House reporter shares insights BY JODIE FAWL Lincoln Journal Star
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Skipping from civil liberties to Enron to presidential news coverage, longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas regaled members of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce Thursday with tales about the highest of the mighty.
"I've always felt privileged to cover the White House and to have that ringside seat to history," she said.
Thomas' career has spanned 60 years and nine presidents. She resigned from United Press International in May 2000 when it was sold to New World Communications, a company controlled by the Unification Church.
"We have all watched Helen on TV," said Gov. Mike Johanns as he introduced her to a chamber audience of about 700 at The Cornhusker. "I told her I feel like we know you so well I should have you over for dinner."
Thomas quickly accepted.
Although her speech was laced with one-liners, witticisms and funny asides, many of her topics were more serious.
For example: "What a difference a day makes," she said. After the Cold War "we thought we would live happily every after. There is no question, we're all playing it by ear. There is no road map for dealing with terrorism."
And she said she was struck by how easily Americans have given up some civil liberties in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
She understands the need for more airport security, Thomas said, but racial profiling, wiretapping and government intrusions on private property are too much.
"We cannot be ruled by fear - that's not us," she said.
As a gimlet-eyed observer of the nation's chief executive, Thomas has come to believe that presidents have the greatest honor: the trust of the American people.
"My feeling is, if they want to go into politics they should forgo their privacy. They should decide when they are five and live like Sunday school teachers."
The whole world - and news coverage of it - has changed since the 1960s, when she started on the presidential watch. Among the most written about: A sexual revolution and a cultural revolution.
She said the press corps followed a "golden rule that if it didn't affect the running of the country, they didn't need to report on it. We weren't protecting anybody."
As President Bill Clinton reached his last days in office, Thomas asked him what White House possession he would like to take with him.
His reply: the rock Neal Armstrong brought back from the moon. Whenever tension filled the Oval Office, Clinton said, he would point to the rock and tell those present to "chill out." The rock was 3.6 billion years old, he said; they needed perspective.
"I think the rock is still there, but I'm not sure," Thomas said.
She also shared with the group her impressions of the presidents she covered.
John F. Kennedy was "inspired," she said, and the current President Bush is "a work in progress."
Richard Nixon "always had two roads to go, and he always took the wrong road."
Thomas said that in the White House press room there is a photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt. His signed inscription speaks to the uneasy truce between presidents and the grim crowd that records their every utterance: "To reporters - from their devoted victim."
Reach Jodie Fawl at 473-7235 or email@example.com.
Sorry--forgot about those two as well.
I have not been successful posting a picture. I wish someone would FreepMail me an address so I could send them one of GW Bush in his flight suit. It serves as stark contrast to people like Helen.
She really had to struggle to find a tiny bit of blue zone in Nebraska where the audience would listen to her bias and bigotry.
LOL - forget about Ari's shoe -- he should give the woman a broom and let it fly her away on auto-pilot.
But Goodman can sing. This witch can't even cackle correctly.
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