I have never been a big Fan of Helen Thomas. She does not respect the line between commentary and reporting. Her questions are more like campaign speeches and they usually reflect the Democratic Party side of things, like this one from March 2006:
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?
If there is an Anti-Israel way to frame a question, she will usually find it. Like this exchange with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow during last years Israel/Lebanon War
At the July 18, 2006 White House press briefing, Thomas remarked, “The United States is not that helpless. It could have stopped the bombardment of Lebanon. We have that much control with the Israelis…we have gone for collective punishment against all of Lebanon and Palestine.” Press Secretary Tony Snow responded, “Thank you for the Hezbollah view.”
Ms Thomas does not mask her feelings for the president either she once told an autograph seeker who asked why she was sad, “I’m covering the worst president in American history.” The autograph seeker was a sports writer and her comments were published. After she was not called upon during a press conference for the first time in over four decades, she wrote to the president to apologize. She also told The Hill Magazine “The day Dick Cheney is going to run for president, I’ll kill myself. All we need is another liar… I think he’d like to run, but it would be a sad day for he country if he does.
With with all this said, for a Democratic Party apologist Thomas sure has Hilary Clinton down pat. In today’s Salt Lake City Tribune Thomas recounts many of the same major flip flops that I have done on this blog.
Will the real Hillary Clinton stand up?
By Helen Thomas
WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has great political skills, but her war-and-peace compass leaves something to be desired.
Clinton has blown hot and cold on Middle East issues, including Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. She is at best pragmatic. Principles? Well, that’s another story.
Before and during her early years in the White House, she supported Palestinian statehood, but she apparently forgot this after successfully running for senator from New York as a Democrat.
The rest is history. She obviously had to cater to a new constituency, make the ritual trip to Israel and forget any sympathy she once had for the Palestinians. But is her 180-degree flip-flop on that festering issue a portent of her leadership if she attains the White House?
As for Iraq, she voted in October 2002 to authorize President Bush to do what was necessary to unseat Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Unlike former Democratic Sen. John Edwards, she has refused to say she made a mistake when she voted for the war.
She cannot claim she was misled. During the lead up to the war when she was briefed on the latest U.S. intelligence about Iraq, Bush was shouting from the housetops that he was going to attack Iraq.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld often strutted before reporters at the Pentagon two years before the invasion and bragged about the attack the U.S. would wage against Iraq.
Clinton is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a post that will allow her to embellish her credentials as a possible future commander-in-chief to show she would not hesitate to make tough military decisions.
As a member of that committee, she visited Iraq in 2005 and said U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake. But she also criticized the administration for making poor decisions about the war.
In 2007, she voted in favor of a war-spending bill that required Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within a certain deadline; the president vetoed the measure. But Clinton then voted against a compromise war-spending bill that tied funding to progress by Iraq in meeting certain benchmarks.
It doesn’t take her long to switch her stance on the war – even in 24 hours. On Tuesday, June 19, Clinton told a union audience that she favored keeping some troops in Iraq “to protect our interests” there after a major pullout. But the following day, she told an activist anti-war gathering that she wants U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq.
On that day, she dazzled the “Take Back America” conference by declaring: “We’re going to end the war in Iraq and finally bring our troops home.”
A woman has a right to change her mind. But we’re talking about war and peace. After dealing with the conflict, now in its fifth year, Clinton ought to know where she stands.
She has piously stated that the U.S. had given the Iraqis a “chance for free and fair elections” by ousting Saddam Hussein and has provided the Iraqi government the opportunity to demonstrate that it would “make hard political decisions necessary to give the people of Iraq a better future.”
And get this: “So,” she added, “the American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions that are important for their own people.”
What gall! The U.S. invades and occupies a country, destroys its infrastructure, tries to privatize its national oil industry, kills and wounds thousands of Iraqis and now tells the ungrateful Iraqis, “It’s your problem.”
Pretty soon she will echo Bush in saying we are in Iraq to bring them “democracy”!
It’s great that a woman is being taken seriously as a candidate for the presidency for the first time in history – and is even viewed as the front runner. She has suffered the rough and tumble of politics.
But Clinton should look to two California Democrats – Rep. Barbara Lee and Speaker Nancy Pelosi – both of whom had the courage to vote against the first resolution authorizing the president to go to war. The question still lingers: What does Clinton stand for?