Thursday, January 26, 2006

He's a coward

Jan 26 2006

President Bush today again avoided taking a question from White House doyenne Helen Thomas during his 45-minute press conference, even though he took questions from every reporter around her front-row, center seat.

"He's a coward," Thomas said afterward. "He's supposed to be this macho guy. He'll take on Osama bin Laden, but he won't take me on."

Thomas, who worked as the UPI White House reporter for 57 years and is now a columnist, raised her hand every time the president was concluding an answer to a reporter's question, but he never called on her.

She had a few questions in mind, though. "I wanted to ask about Iraq: 'You said you didn't go in for oil or for Israel or for WMDs. so why did you go in?' "

She also had another question at the ready, just in case, this one about the president's contention that a 28-year-old wiretapping law known as FISA is out of date, which prompted him to order the National Security Agency to conduct a secret electronic surveillance program that Democrats contend is illegal.

"You keep saying it's a 1978 law, but the Constitution 200 years old. Is that out of date, too?"

Afterward, Thomas sat sullenly in her chair in the White House press work area, huddled in her leopard-print winter coat.

But as she left, she made a prediction: "He came on to my turf. I'll bet the next press conference will be in Room 450 of the EEOB," a theater-style room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where she would not be in the front row.

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