June 7, 2010

Helen, We Hardly Knew Ya

A wise teacher of children once said, "Teachers should never die on the vine."

The same can possibly be said of journalists. And aging pundits.

Helen Thomas retired once, wrote a book, became bored, and returned with a new employer to her coveted seat in the front row of the White House press room.

My female friends and I, in journalism school right after Watergate, looked at Helen Thomas as a kind of icon. She was one tough cookie, waving at the Office White House Flack with her hard-hiting, nail-biting questions about truth, justice, and the American way.

When the first post-Watergate generation of female journalists hit the ground running, we wanted that access to power. (Right after we nailed a big wooden version of our first initial on our apartment wall, just like Mary Tyler Moore.)

But something happened to Miss Thomas in her second wind. Her questions moved from provocative queries to opinionated speeches.

I am no age-ist but I believe there is a time for everything under heaven. Somewhere prior to age 89, Miss Thomas should have sensed the seasons were changing. Dying on the vine in public is not a pretty sight.