One of the nice things about surprises is that they are surprises, that is, the treat of the thing itself is boosted by a bonus of not having expected it in the first place.
That’s how I felt this week when I learned that Helen Thomas is back on the front row at Presidential press conferences. The surprise was that because of Ms. Thomas’ long and esteemed career, including having been a member of the White House Press Corps since President Kennedy and the first female officer of the National Press Club, I fully expected that ill health was responsible for her absence from the front row during the Presidential press conferences. What else could it have been?
This is not news to many of you, okay, most of you. In fact, I think I may be the only person in the Western World that somehow missed that the 42nd occupier of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue had relegated Ms. Thomas to the back row for reasons that smack of yet more of the empty, but dangerous, huff and puff that was the Madness of George the W.
But, surprise, Ms. Thomas was not sick! She’s fine and back on the front row!!
I am thankful to President Obama for so many things already, chiefly being a return of sanity and thoughtfulness in the person of the President of the United States. Having learned some of the details of Ms. Thomas’ banishment and reinstatement to the front row, neither leg of that circuit is truly surprising. But it is no less delightful for the lack of surprise. It’s good to have her back. Helen’s seat is one of the small details that tell all about our President.
In the words of the most esteemed Ms. Thomas, thank you, Mr. President. I am not sure that this is what Ms. Thomas has meant all these years when she closed out the Presidential Press Conferences. But here’s what I mean: thank you, Mr. President, for being you; thank you for being our President.