Some of the worst wounds in Washington are self-inflicted.
Even a paranoid like Richard Nixon had no one to blame but himself for his political demise although he’d assembled an impressive and extensive list of enemies and sicced the IRS and FBI on many of them.
And no one forced Bill Clinton to lust after a White House intern who liked to boast about her conquest.
Washington is full of victims of self-inflicted political wounds. That was brought to mind over the weekend with news of the death of longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas.
She was a pioneer not only as a woman in what had long been a man’s world but for her tenacity and willingness to ask nine presidents the tough questions others often only skirted around.
She is being remembered not just as a pioneer but that she ended her career with a burst of anti-Semitism. He bias against Israel was long known and apparent in her questions but often overlooked, until May 2010.
That’s when she was interviewed at the White House following a celebration for American Jewish Heritage Month and when Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com asked her on camera about Israel.
“Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” she responded, and “go home” to “Poland, Germany,” where millions had been murdered by the Nazis, “and America, and everywhere else.”
“Remember,” she told Rabbi Nesenoff, “these people (the Palestinians) are occupied, and it’s their land.”
Like many others pilloried by their own words, Thomas later said her comments had been “misinterpreted and distorted.” Who done it? The Zionist lobby and the Jews, she said.
In a subsequent Playboy interview, she said the Palestinians “are incarcerated and living in an open prison.” She justified Palestinian violence as “protect(ing) what little remains of Palestine” and said “the suicide bombers act out of despair and desperation.”
The Society of Professional Journalists dropped her name from an annual lifetime achievement award, but the PLO honored her last year “for all of her actions supporting Palestine in the West.” There was also a tribute to her on the website of the terrorist organization Hamas, which praised Thomas for “taking a stand.”
Thomas, 92, was the daughter of Lebanese immigrants and grew up in Detroit.