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March 22, 2006

Helen Thomas v. George Bush, Jr.

George Bush, Jr. had a press conference yesterday. (I was too busy voting and doing WILPF work to notice, but I read about it today.)

Here is Talking Points Memo's transcript of his exchange with Helen Thomas, columnist extraordinaire.

THE PRESIDENT: Helen. After that brilliant performance at the Gridiron, I am -- (laughter.)

HELEN THOMAS: You're going to be sorry. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, then, let me take it back. (Laughter.)

HELEN THOMAS: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

HELEN THOMAS: Everything --

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.

HELEN THOMAS: -- everything I've heard --

(Read the entire TPM post for the full effect)

Thomas has covered more presidents as a member of the White House press corps than any other journalist. When the Moonies bought UPI, she ended her 57 year career there and became a columnist for King Features Syndicate (a Hearst company). Alas, I've been trying to find her columns for awhile to no avail. Or maybe her most recent column was penned on March 8...

According to Jack Shafer at Slate, she's no longer asking hard questions but rather speechifying, which makes it easier to dodger her questions because they are rarely asked directly. That might be true, but at 82, I think she's earned the right to be the voice of reason in the White House. Shame on us for not electing a president who appreciates her point of view.

More info on the press conference: "Bush Concedes Iraq War Erodes Political Status," by Elisabeth Bumiller in today's NYT

Less interesting transcipt from CQ Transcipts via The Columbia Dispatch (reporter names removed and full exchange not included)

Posted by cj at March 22, 2006 8:45 AM


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