Archive for June, 2010

They’re Dropping Like Flies Redux

June 27, 2010

In a previous post I used the title They’re Dropping Like Flies about people dying. I’m using it today as the title of this post to refer to the topic of public figures botching up their public communications and catching flack or getting fired because of it.

The three people in the last several days that did this are:

  • Helen Thomas – White House correspondent since 1960
  • Alan Simpson – long-time US Senator from Wyoming and co-chair of the Presidentially-appointed National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
  • Gen. Stanley McChrystal – Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan

Helen Thomas

From Wikipedia:

On May 27, 2010, outside a Jewish Heritage Celebration Day event at the White House, the following exchange took place between Thomas and Rabbi David Nesenoff:[

Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?

Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?

Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland …

Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?

Thomas: They go home.

Nesenoff: Where’s the home?

Thomas: Poland. Germany.

She seems to have lost her tongue. Ms. Thomas was 89 at the time of her comments. Perhaps she got tired of holding in her true viewpoint. A person in her position however is expected to be impartial. Of course she has her viewpoints, but in her position, she’s really not supposed to open her mouth about it.

Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson was a long-serving US Senator from Wyoming, and is now co-chair of the Presidentially-appointed National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, charged with, among other things, ensuring the stability of Social Security. He was interviewed after leaving a meeting last week and was quoted as saying that we need to take care of the “lesser people” – those receiving social security. This was not a popular reference. He’s taken a lot of flack for this.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal

Four-star Army General Stanley McChrystal was the Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan until June 23, 2010 when he resigned amid a flurry about a Rolling Stone profile of him and his stiff that appeared in the June 25 issue. The issue was that he and his staff made disparaging and disrespectful remarks about several civilian US leaders, including Vice-President Joe Biden and the US ambassador to Afghanistan, among others.


What’s the common thread here? You have three people in high-profile positions saying what’s on their mind. They spoke their truths, but they weren’t popular ones, that’s for sure. I’m not sure what to make of it. People are letting it all hang it. It’s just as well. It’s great to know where people really stand, instead of just assuming you know what’s on their mind. Maybe that’s what’s so great about these developments.