by Peter Freyne
“No weapons of mass destruction.
“No ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
“No threat against the world’s only superpower by a third world country.
This straight-talking, fearless, and, dare we say, inspiring living-legend of journalism and feminism and much more, regaled more than 800 Vermonters packed into the huge Emerald Ballroom at the Sheraton Burlington Sunday afternoon. T’was the “Vermont Woman Lecture Series” ($25-per-ticket), but quite a few guys showed up, too.
After speaking for an hour - the 86-year-old Thomas had the crowd rolling, roaring and riled up! - Ol’ Helen patiently autographed - with personal messages - copies of her new book: Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How it has Failed the Public.
Here’s the gist of it from a piece she had inThe Nation:
"Reporters and editors like to think of themselves as watchdogs for the public good. But in recent years both individual reporters and their ever-growing corporate ownership have defaulted on that role. Ted Stannard, an academic and former UPI correspondent, put it this way: 'When watchdogs, bird dogs, and bull dogs morph into lap dogs, lazy dogs, or yellow dogs, the nation is in trouble.'
"The naïve complicity of the press and the government was never more pronounced than in the prelude to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The media became an echo chamber for White House pronouncements." more here.
As she told her Vermont audience, after “nearly 3000 Americans dead, 2100 wounded for life, we are due for a midterm correction, and soon.This war is illegal and immoral.”
So nice to hear people say so in public, isn't it?.
What do you think, my fellow babyboomers - the 2000 presidential election - the halted Florida recount - will it not be remembered as the greatest and boldest political coup in American history? A government stolen. Not a shot fired. Instead, the lawyers and the Supreme Court justices took care of it.
Hey, remember thinking back then along the lines of “Hey, this guy can’t be that bad, right? He went to Yale. His father was president, ferchrissakes. Chill out!"
If we only knew then what we know now. About this reckless liar's true "Mission Accomplished." And if we only knew then how painful losing Ol' Al Gore - President Global Warming-in-Waiting - would be, eh? I didn't know he had any Academy-Award quality enviro-flick skills inside, did you?
“Where are the voices of protest,” asked Thomas Sunday afternoon to a packed house at the Sheraton. “All these horrors in our name! We’re back in the Dark Ages!”
The truth hurts.
Said Thomas to her Vermont fans, including Madeleine Kunin, Peter Welch, Bernie Sanders, Scudder Parker, Deb Markowitz and Phil Hoff:
"Bush has taken us into a catastrophic unnecessary war that he has yet to explain. The price is unbearable. The human toll. The billions spent. The war profiteering. The destruction of a nation. For that debacle we’re all guilty if only by our silence.
"Congress also acquiesced and did not asked why. They put their conscience in a bind trust. I’m even more appalled at the media, reporters, newspapers, broadcasters who rolled over and played dead when they should have been asking the important questions.
"After 9/11 reporters like everyone else were afraid to challenge the administration. Afraid to rock the boat. Afraid to be called unpatriotic or un-American.
"Reporters at the Pentagon and White House and at the Pentagon bought the spin hook line and sinker...
"The upcoming election on November 7 will be a referendum on this war and the public’s assessment of the do-nothing Congress as well as the scandals which suggest this government has been for sale to deep-pocket donors and wily lobbyists.
"I still can’t explain why we’ve been so gullible - the whole nation. I don’t think the Republicans are going to be able to play the fear card again."
Fingers crossed, eh?