Thursday, August 04, 2011

Happy Birthday, Helen

Thomas and KennedyHelen Thomas

Today in Winchester, Kentucky, in 1920 Helen Thomas was born. An Arab-American and a woman, she's forged a path few of any ethnicity or gender have followed. The longest-serving White House reporter, she has covered every president since Kennedy, first for UP and then UPI (until 2000), and then as a columnist. For 45 years she has covered them with "respect for the office but no awe for the man" - which, as you can imagine, has earned her the dislike of more than one of them. She hadn't been afraid to call Obama out, either, on what she perceived to be his failings: secrecy and "controlling" the press, a reluctance to fight hard for things like universal healthcare ("no stomach for the political battle," she says), and turning a blind eye to Israel's conduct in Gaza.

She's now retired (as I'm sure you know), having finally said something nobody wanted to hear in terms too blunt to be forgiven... But she was never anybody's lap dog, this lady. We need more, not fewer, like her.

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