Andrew Denton had a great interview with Helen Thomas last night. This is from the transcript:
ANDREW DENTON: The old saying that that power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely. Do you believe that's true?Thomas talks about her family emigrating from Syria long ago, inspired by The American Dream, and being taught old-fashioned values. She talks about racism in Washington, and how she was ostracised by the Bush White House:
HELEN THOMAS: Yeah. I think it can. I've seen people men go into the Oval Office with some trepidation. In a couple of days they think they're President and they think that's all powerful and people worship at their shrine and every wish is a command, no yeah I think very corrupting.
ANDREW DENTON: Who have you seen most changed by that office?
HELEN THOMAS: This man. I think he thinks he's President and he's led us into a very big quagmire morass.
ANDREW DENTON: You did write to him after you were reported as having called him the worst President. How did he respond?There's an interesting exchange where Denton talks about the Kennedy assassination, then moves on to talk about Thomas's husband, who died from Alzheimers:
HELEN THOMAS: Very nice. Wrote me a nice note and he thought as I he thought it was a peace offering and then ah ha so he called on me the next time I said, "Why did we go to war?"
HELEN THOMAS: So ah again I was in the dog house. Deep freeze this time.
ANDREW DENTON: You saw him decline and die from that. You are somebody who lives in your mind and you saw the man you love lose his. That must have had a powerful impact on you.Denton apologises and Thomas pulls herself back together: that's one tough lady!
HELEN THOMAS: Oh yes but I more powerful was my family helped me. I never put him in home or...
ANDREW DENTON: Yes that is remarkable. Your sister in particular ah took him in, is that right?
HELEN THOMAS: No. This is the moment you wanted.
ANDREW DENTON: No, not at all and if you'd rather I didn't.
HELEN THOMAS: I don't want to sit around and and to apologise for my life.
ANDREW DENTON: I don't want you to apologise for your life. Far from it. I'm what we're talking about here is what's happened in your life and what -
HELEN THOMAS: What do you think happens for God's sakes? You see someone deteriorate before your eyes.
ANDREW DENTON: Do you feel optimistic about us as a species?BTW that transcript from "your" ABC is pretty shocking: the writer doesn't even seem familiar with Abu Ghraib or Al-Maliki, let alone know how to spell them. Funny world, isn't it?
HELEN THOMAS: I mean I don't know. I don't feel happy about human nature, no. The passivity. I mean look ah look what the Germans did. They tolerated Nazism, they tolerated gas chambers, they tolerated. Look at us the passivity. We tolerate torture, we tolerate killing innocent people. Who are we? What have we become? No. I mean I mean I'm facing the immediate problems. I'm not worried about the planet. I'm worried about us right now...
ANDREW DENTON: Do you see in the new generation coming through, do you see seeds for hope?
HELEN THOMAS: Who can live without hope? Of course there's hope. I don't know about the new generation per se but I mean there'll always be hope. Can't go any further down in my opinion.
ANDREW DENTON: What would say to a suicide bomber?
HELEN THOMAS: Why? What is it about our country that have we have not tried to understand what why are they doing these things. You can tell a suicide bomber has reached the end of his rope. I think you have to find out why. There has been no attempt in this country of finding out what is terrorism? What motivates these people? Why would they give up their lives when they we know people cherish their their lives? Because they see no hope and they also have felt so pushed down. I do think that ah our lack of curiosity of what motivates these people. See I don't believe it's 12 virgins in in ah heaven that baloney. I think it's it's a deeper feeling of being absolutely the end of the road.
ANDREW DENTON: To many people in this country a suicide bomber represents the darkest of dark forces.
HELEN THOMAS: Well it is. But wh-what's the difference between a suicide bomber and dropping a missile in in a house and and blowing up everybody? Napalm and things that we've done in Vietnam and now. I mean we what did we do at Falljah? We left one tree. We wiped them out because they had fired ah rebelled and and ah revolted and and pushed us back for a while. Came in with a vengeance and nobody even mentions it. It was carthage at the end.
Cartoon above from Luckovich.