Helen Thomas is the only reporter for a mainstream news outlet -- that I can think of, at least -- who would have the cojones to ask questions like this at a White House press briefing:
Q Does the President want no troops out from Iraq on his watch? I'm talking about all the troops.
MS. PERINO: Well, 5,700 troops will be home by the end of the year, so that is some troops coming home. The President said that troop levels are going to be made by commanders on the ground, and that we're going to have to talk about --
Q Why should it be? Why can't the American people have a say?
MS. PERINO: -- return on success. The American people have had a say. They elected a President who is their Commander-in-Chief and is making decisions based on what his commanders on the ground are telling him.
Q And you think that was the vote of the American people?
MS. PERINO: They elected a Commander-in-Chief, and the President is bringing home 5,700 troops, based on the recommendations of his commanders on the ground and based on return on success. Hopefully in the future we can bring home more, but it's going to depend on what General Petraeus reports and remember he will come back in March.
Q Why should we depend on him?
MS. PERINO: Because he is the commander on the ground, Helen. He's the one who is making sure that the situation is moving --
Q You mean how many more people we kill?
MS. PERINO: Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position, bestowed upon you by your colleagues, to make such statements. This is a -- it is an honor and a privilege to be in the briefing room, and to suggest that we, at the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive.
Q Do you know how many we have since the start of this war?
MS. PERINO: How many -- we are going after the enemy, Helen. To the extent that any innocent Iraqis have been killed, we have expressed regret for it.
Q Oh, regret. It doesn't bring back a life.
MS. PERINO: Helen, we are in a war zone, and our military works extremely hard to make sure that everyone has the opportunity for liberty and freedom and democracy, and that is exactly what they are doing.
I'm going to move on.
Neoconservatives and right-wingers do not think that journalists should ask questions like these of our Sainted Leaders. Questions like these make our Sainted Leaders uncomfortable and are not as deferential as a journalists' questions are supposed to be when speaking to the official spokesperson for a Sainted Leader.
Here is a bit of background on Helen Thomas, for those who are not familiar with her professional history:
Helen Thomas (born August 4, 1920) is a noted news service reporter, a Hearst Newspapers columnist, and member of the White House Press Corps. She has served for 57 years as a correspondent and White House bureau chief for United Press International (UPI). Thomas has covered every president since John F. Kennedy, was the first woman officer of the National Press Club, was the first woman member and president of the White House Correspondents Association, and the first woman member of the Gridiron Club. She has written four books, including her latest, Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public.
Now I'm going to quote you some of what was said about Thomas by the far right bloggers I linked to above. I won't link to them again, but all of these quotes are taken from one or more of the above-linked blogs:
"... repellent leftist newsfossil Helen Thomas showing her ass to Dana Perino. ..."
"an exchange between lovely/creamy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino ... and hideous terrorist apologist Helen Thomas. ..."
"Repellant troll eviscerated"
"Helen Thomas, the way post[sic]menopausal hag of the White House Press Corps get’s [sic] her fat-ass [sic] handed to her...
Volcanic eruptions of misogyny to one side, the goose-steppers are deeply confused about whose honor and privilege it is to be in the White House briefing room. Libby sets them straight:
The fringers seem to think that Dana Perino scored some big Brownie point here when she rudely dismissed Helen Thomas' questions.Oh, and another thing: The president of the United States is not the American people's commander-in-chief:MS. PERINO: Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position, bestowed upon you by your colleagues, to make such statements. This is a — it is an honor and a privilege to be in the briefing room, and to suggest that we, at the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive.Dana has this ass backwards and clearly illustrates the false sense of entitlement that has polluted our government. Dana works for Helen and every other taxpaying American, not the other way around. That she fails to recognize her own place is what's really offensive.
Dana would do well to remember that she is a public servant, and so is the president and every other Beltway lizard on the public payroll. She would do well to remember that she serves at the pleasure of the people who fund her position and thus would be expected to conduct herself with the barest modicum of courtesy and deference any employee must show to their employer.
If anybody in the White House press room these days deserves a raise it’s Helen Thomas, who continues to be the only journalist in the room to consistently uphold the duties of the Fourth Estate. Thank you Helen for keeping it real ever since landing a job at UPI all the way back in 1943.
Helen Thomas: No troops out from Iraq on his watch. I know. I’m talking about all troops.
Dana Perino: Well, 5700 troops will be home by the end of the year so that is some troops coming home. The President said the troop levels are going to be made by the commanders on the ground and we are going to have to talk about return on success. [return? You mean like the return of the $3.5 trillion this war is going to cost since your (mis)administration promised that Iraq was “a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”]
Helen Thomas: Why should it be? Why don’t the American people have a say?
Dana Perino: The American people have had a say. They elected a President [no, they didn’t] who is their commander in chief [no, he is not] and is making decisions based on what his commanders on the ground are telling him.
Helen Thomas: Do You think that was the vote from the American people?
Dana Perino: They elected a commander in chief [not!] and the President is bringing home 5700 troops based on the recommendations of his commanders on the ground and based on return on success. Hopefully in the future we can bring home more but it’s going to depend on what Gen Petraeus reports and remember he will come back in March.
Would somebody please bring back the old America?