Monday, June 07, 2010

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Helen

Well, finally the bile-filled Helen Thomas said something so egregious that she had to retire. What do you bet that her employers told her to choose retirement or be fired? As Meryl Yourish notes, Thomas's remarks that were so offensive barely received any coverage in the major media until she announced her retirement. I'm sure we'll get all sorts of respectful retrospectives concentrating on her supposedly impressive career instead of focusing on the ugly things that she's said throughout her career. But those statements didn't do anything to diminish the honored place that she held in the White House press room with presidents calling on her first at press conferences and press spokesmen deferring to her crazy aunt questions. As Karl writes in The Green Room,
Helen Thomas was humored and honored by the establishment media because she was its institutional id. More often than not, Thomas said the the things they wanted to say, the way they would have liked to say them, were they not (ineffectively) pretending to be objective.

The Helen Thomas story thus serves as a timely rebuke to those in the chattering classes who spent the past few months arguing that the Right had a serious problem with ideological cocooning (or “epistemic closure”) and needed to engage more with the establishment Narrative if it was going be worthy to govern in the future. The critics always dismissed the bias of the establishment press as a type of tu quoque or as a phenomenon separable from groupthink on the Right. The reality is that the people most in charge of the establishment Narrative in America — ensconced in a cocoon of their own — tolerated and feted Thomas for decades. They would be doing it still, if not for that meddling blogosphere.
Regarding her hate-filled spew about the Jews in Israel needing to return to Germany and Poland, the open letter by Yoram Dori, an aide to Shimon Peres, that Drudge linked to expresses my thoughts quite eloquently.
IN THE 62 years of our existence, we have had seven wars, thousands of terror attacks, buses which have exploded in streets, firing into schools, mortars fired on kindergartens. Yet you wish to exile us back to the inferno, as if nothing happened 65 years ago in Europe, as if our hands have not been stretched out for peace since the establishment of the state?

We were victorious in the wars imposed upon us by Egypt and we signed a peace agreement with it after yielding all the territory and all the oil. We signed a peace agreement with Jordan. We yielded all the territory and much water. We withdrew from Lebanon to the international border and, in return, we received Hizbullah katyushas on our citizens. We left Gaza and in return, we received massive firing on our citizens in the South. Are you aware, Ms. Thomas, that many children from Sderot and the area around Gaza wet their beds until a late age out of fear of the Hamas missiles? And it is us that you wish to exile? Why? Because you think that we are weak or because it annoys you that we are not defeated?
That's the history that all the protesters in the streets of Europe, diplomats at the UN, and those of Helen Thomas's ilk like to ignore. Sadly, the Israelis live with this truth and can't ignore it.

So I won't be joining those who will look back on Helen Thomas's career with respect. Instead I appreciate the delicious fact that it was an interview with a rabbi that served to pull back the mask to let us see the ugly person beneath. She deserves all the opprobrium and humiliation coming her way now. As Jonah Goldberg writes, she's always been "a nasty piece of work."
Also, let's just get the liberal bias thing out of the way. If there was a right-winger who'd spouted so much bile, hate, and ideological agenda-driven nonsense in the White House briefing room for half a century it would be . . . oh wait, no such person would have ever been allowed to become a Washington "institution" in the first place. According to the media graybeards, it's always been a sign of seriousness and unwavering truth-seeking for reporters to attack from the left (c.f. Dan Rather, Daniel Schorr, et al.).

See? She's not biased she asks Obama and Clinton tough questions too! Yes, from the hard, loony left.

All of these condemnations, equivocations, repudiations, and protestations are all fundamentally silly because they are part of a D.C. Kabuki that treats the last straw as if it was wholly different than the million other straws everyone was happy to carry.

Suddenly, all of these people and groups are stunned to discover that Helen Thomas is . . . Helen Thomas. Feh.
It shouldn't have taken this long for her to have been cut loose, but better late than never.