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Why aren't I standing in for Helen Thomas?

By Alexandra Petri

Walt Whitman High School, I am deeply disappointed by your decision to pick Bob Schieffer as your graduation speaker. I tried so hard to let you know I was available!

Upon learning that Helen Thomas’s discomfiting remarks had disqualified her from speaking, I immediately offered my services. I figured that I was qualified, having never said anything controversial to or about anyone. Sometimes, when I am in long lines behind slow-moving people, I clear my throat emphatically, but that’s about it. Once I told someone to “go back to Germany and Poland,” but this remark made sense in context, since he had just said, “I think I dropped my camera in either Germany or Poland.” And I have a lot of experience in delivering speeches, sometimes carrying them down several flights of stairs in order to give them to the person who will actually be reading them.

However, I am not without credentials. Like Helen Thomas, I have a reputation for asking tough questions. “When are you going to get out of Afghanistan?” I demand of random passersby. “What are you hiding?” So far, no one has answered, but I think this is because they find my integrity intimidating. And unlike Helen Thomas, no one has created a Facebook page suggesting that Betty White replace me as a member of the White House press corps.

Compared to this, what does Bob Schieffer have, besides a decades-long career as a respected journalist for CBS?

And he’s made controversial remarks too! He wrote a country-western song about the life of a TV anchorman that includes the words: “You don’t have to know all that much/Like names and dates and facts and such/’Cause you got a face that reeks sincerity.” What if he tries to perform it for the Whitman class of 2010? Is this the kind of message we want recent graduates to hear?

Sure, Alan Goodwin, the principal of Walt Whitman High School, described Bob Schieffer as a “journalist of prominent stature in the community.” But sometimes too much stature is a bad thing. Once, during the Nixon administration, Bob Schieffer walked head-on into an overhead luggage rack and knocked himself unconscious. This has never happened to me. What I am trying to say is that I have gravitas.

To say that I am less controversial than Bob Schieffer is an understatement. Bob Schieffer once wrote: “Two dogs are talking, and one says to the other, ‘It’s not just that dogs must win, but cats must also lose.’ Well, that’s our modern Congress.” This man has been a respected newscaster for years, interviewing every president from Nixon to Bush! Has he believed, all this time, that Congress consists entirely of talking animals? How did this go unnoticed?

Walt Whitman High, it is not too late to change your mind. If you need to reach me, I will be sitting here quietly avoiding controversy, emerging only when I need to pick up more gravitas. Go Vikings!

By Alexandra Petri  | June 9, 2010; 12:01 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  Alexandra Petri  
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Hilarious. Thank you, Alexandra.

Posted by: michele3d | June 9, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

At laaaaaast... someone who has a sense of context.

Frankly, from the video, from the smiling face of Helen Thomas, it only suggests that she wasn't all that serious, as her later post on her website indicates.

Posted by: hjmcmaster | June 9, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

After the Rabbi got caught he went crying to Fox News that he received death threats! Now figure it out.

Posted by: jgbaby1234 | June 9, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Wow. what wit!This person is who,exactly? and the line about the person with the lost camera, brilliant.You should write for the New York Post or ESPN or maybe for Leno...imagine the temerity of Ms Thomas to suggest that the Palestinians deserve their homeland!She got what was coming to her, eh?Next thing she'll suggest the English get out of Ireland and go back to, well, London or Liverpool!

Posted by: patrickhogan43 | June 9, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I think people need to take this situation less seriously, at least there are a few humorous takes on the situation out there, this one is good too:

Posted by: jagermom47 | June 9, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

That was cute and funny (Sarah Palin-ish aka Bimbo-ish).

But you did bring up a good point.
I wonder who all is fighting over Helen Thomas' seat?

She had one of the best seats in the house.
Right down in the front row!

Posted by: lindalovejones | June 9, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I think Bob schieffer jumped to replace Helen Thomas too soon. For a veteran journalist like that he should have waited. May be he is going to Fox News to get big bucks at his age!

Posted by: jgbaby1234 | June 9, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

hahahaaaa im a whitman student and I'm tired of hearing about this controversy, but this was so funny!

Posted by: drsrour | June 9, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I suppose you could let them know that you'd be happy to stand in for Thomas and that someone will certify that you are not a racist and a bigot. That might add some semblance of gravitus to an otherwise inane piece of fluff.

Posted by: whessert | June 9, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

We should all stand for Helen Thomas. It's all blown beyond any measures...

Her opinions suck, but who said you're not allowed to have sucky opinions?

Check this out... Funny as hell but hits bulls eye:

What do you guys think???

Posted by: shlomitandroypethostel | June 11, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

First they came for the Christians and Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Christian or a Jew.

Then they came for the Conservatives and I did not speak out because I was not a Conservative.

Then they came for the small businesses and I did not speak out because I was not a small business.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Posted by: gracie9 | June 11, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

good, but not enough star wars references.

Posted by: thepoastman | June 14, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

What is done to Helen Thomas goes to show you how our first amendment and freedom of speech is being endangered by the Zionists owned Media and News organizations. How the infiltration of the Zionists into our government is the most imminent danger to this country and our values.

They can block and defame others and protect themselves from any damages or backlash from their atrocities. The "Goldstone" report by the UN is forgotten, the latest killing of unarmed and innocent people on the seas and other places are not followed up and no journalist dare to criticizes the Israelis or the Zionists.

Other peoples such ourselves who blog and comment on daily news are being censored and taken out. The power to shape American public opinion is a power that is now controlled by the Zionists and they can shut down our freedom of expression and speech when they want to.

Wake up and see who is stealing your country from underneath you.

Posted by: Esther_Haman | June 14, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

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