Tuesday, November 16, 2010

lunch (and holding hands) with Helen Thomas

I was in DC last weekend for a conference-- and had the occasion for a "brush with celebrity".

My friend Michelle has befriended and is doing a book project with Hele
n Thomas, the until-recently-inveterate White House reporter. Her tenure spanned from JFK to Bush II-- and she (along with Sam Donaldson) became relatively famous for trying to mess with Reagan. She was a pioneer for women in the news industry, particularly with respect to national politics.

This summer, she said things that are politically unpopular about Israel-- and expressed them in a manner somewhere in between politically-incorrect and crazy. She resigned under pressure from her post as she neared her 90th birthday.

The three of us ate at a little French restaurant in Georgetown. I held her hand and supported her, getting from the car into the restaurant.

During lunch, we mostly alternated between Eric/Michelle stories and hearing Helen talk about Presidents and their press secretaries. (She loved JFK and deeply respected LBJ. She had mixed things to say about the other presidents. Of press secretaries, she said that they all lie, but some work harder at it than others.)

Afterward, my friend expressed disappointment that I didn't talk more about policy with Helen. But that was a lost cause. Near the beginning, I tried to float a "progressive" idea-- my disapproval about the onerous burden of payroll taxes on the working poor. But she was all in favor of that. In a word, she loves as much government as she can get-- except for military action.

Badgering a 90-year-old statist didn't seem like a good idea to me, but sticking to her White House memories, we had a good time.


At November 16, 2010 at 6:29 PM , Blogger Economics Team, Cengage Learning said...

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At November 16, 2010 at 8:37 PM , Blogger Rachel7Loy said...

I read her autobiography several years ago and enjoyed it! I think you did the right thing just to enjoy the memories. She really paved the way for women in the White House press corps and for that I can appreciate her work.


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