Helen Thomas is on my list “Why Do They Have a Job?”  Now that she doesn’t have a job, perhaps I should take her off my list.  I’ll think about it.  But I have wondered about her for years.  The fact that this woman has had a job all this time was something I didn’t get.

On May 27, 2010, at the White House Jewish Heritage Celebration, Ms. Thomas was asked for her comments on Israel.  She said, “[t]ell them to get the hell out of Palestine.”  When asked where they should go, she replied, “[t]hey should go home…to Poland, Germany, … America and everywhere else.”  Thanks to Rabbi David F. Nesenoff, this woman’s vile opinions were heard by over one million people in just one day.

Ms. Thomas is 89 years old and has worked in the news business for decades and covered every President since the Kennedy administration for United Press International.  In 1990, she became an opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers.    As a result of the publication of her comments, she abruptly retired on Monday, June 7th.  Finally, something I get!

From my perspective, Hearst continued her employment and accommodated her simply because she’d been in the business for such a long time.  It had to be apparent to Hearst and others in her profession, and to anyone who followed White House press conferences, that she’s been off her mark.  Now, it appears she’s off her rocker.

She’s had a privileged front row seat at the White House press gallery with her name on it, for I don’t know how long, for no other reason that I can figure except for the fact that she’s been around for so long.  Finally, the White House Correspondents Association stated, after the news of Ms. Thomas’s retirement, “[t]he incident does revive the issue of whether it is appropriate for an opinion columnist to have a front row seat in the WH briefing room.”

As far as I’m concerned, Ms. Thomas should have been put out to pasture long ago.  Some of her statements in recent memory have been so outrageous, it’s hard to believe anyone could take this woman seriously.

Last year, at President Obama’s first press conference, she asked a question about the  “so-called terrorists.“  I couldn’t believe my ears.  How many of our young men and women, who voluntarily joined the Armed Forces, have been injured or killed because of the war on terror.  We weren’t attacked on 9/11 by “so-called terrorists” and the war that has been fought since then is not the “war on so-called terror.”  Later, when asked about her comment about the “so-called terrorists,” her remarks were even more outrageous.

Her latest rant about the people of Israel must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back because even the White House called her statements “offensive and reprehensible.”

I understand she’s not a news reporter but an opinion columnist and doesn’t have to be objective.  She’s permitted to express her point of view.  I also recognize that she’s a self-proclaimed “liberal.”  But on May 28th, on Fox Business Channel,  astonishingly, she said President Obama is not a liberal!  “Not in my book,” according to Ms. Thomas.  That alone should put her credibility at odds with any thinking person.

Now comes the part I really don’t get.  The apology.

After Rabbi Nesenoff posted the video on several prominent websites, Ms. Thomas “swiftly” apologized.  She said, “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians.”  She said the comments “do not reflect” her “heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance.” (Remember, she had the opportunity to apologize for her remarks on the Fox Business Channel the following day.)

In my opinion, these type of apologies are feeble attempts to mask a person’s true feelings.  And, apologies are always given after the deed has been exposed.  Has there ever been a child that says to his mother, “Mom, I took three extra cookies out of the cookie jar last week after you told me to take only one.  I really feel bad about it and thought you should know.”  I doubt it.

John Edwards, Tiger Woods, Jesse James, Eliot Spitzer, and countless others have only apologized after they were caught.  These inadequate “so-called” apologies (I couldn’t help using Ms. Thomas’s own description) are nothing more than lame attempts to cover-up their disrespect for their wives and their contempt for the sanctity of marriage.  Did anyone really buy Mel Gibson’s lame apology?

Never once have I ever heard a public figure come out and say, “I’ve been having an affair; no one knows about it but I think I need to apologize now.”  Has anyone ever heard a public figure say, “I was talking to my husband last week and I used the “n” word and I really feel bad about it and I need to apologize for it.”  N-E-V-E-R!

People in the public eye only apologize when they’re caught.  Their pleas for forgiveness are always motivated by self interest and are mere attempts to salvage what’s left of their public image.  Actors have to sell movies.  Politicians need to keep getting elected otherwise they’d have to get real jobs.  Few actually crawl back under the rock from whence they came.  There’s even talk Mr. Spitzer may get his own cable news show!

In Helen Thomas’s case, her bigotry and anti-Semitism became so apparent no one was willing to back her up.  Walt Whitman High School canceled her scheduled graduation speech and her speaking agency, Nine Speakers, has already dropped her as a client.  Lanny Davis, former special counsel to and White House spokesman for President Bill Clinton and my favorite Democrat, said the apology “was not direct and didn’t address the merits of her belief in the stereotype that Jews are aliens in Israel and don’t belong there.” “If she had asked all blacks to go back to Africa, what would [the] White House Correspondents Association’s position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials — much less a privileged honorary seat?” Davis asked, adding that those who say Thomas is protected by her right to free speech would likely be less tolerant if she were talking about other minority groups.

Whether she’ll get her own talk show, I have no idea.  Hopefully, she’ll go home and stay there.  But as far as I’m concerned, her apology is an empty formality that I’m not getting.  And, if you get it, God bless you.


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