A guest post from my father, a former Washington correspondent
by Sanford Watzman
I didn’t know Sarah Palin then but I did know Helen Thomas and, believe me, Helen was a Sarah. I’m going back some 45 years when, as a correspondent for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, I would sometimes attend a White House news conference. I used to have two gripes: (1) these sessions seldom produced any real news; (2) I had to nonetheless sit through posturing by some peers, particularly Helen. Not once did I hear her ask a question that elicited worthwhile information. Rather, she specialized, even gloried in, being annoying.
O.K., she wasn’t as glib or as sexy as Sarah. But she pushed the woman thing all the way to the top of the White House Correspondents Association., and later McCain did the woman thing, not wanting a macho sort to rival him (little did he know!). Kind of scares you, doesn’t it, were Sarah to reach the top of the ticket in 2012? But the real link between Helen and Sarah was that neither had anything really to say, yet won a certain cachet.
Helen must have confused my son Haim. Should he go back to Poland from Israel? His mother June may or may not be a Polish Jew. But who knows? The boundaries shifted so often then that Haim couldn’t possibly know where his true ancestral home is. And God forbid! Remember the postwar pogrom at Kielce in Poland? Convinces you, doesn’t it, that even today it makes sense to be a Zionist.