CRAZY AUNT IN THE BASEMENT*: Slate’s Jack Shafer has a damning piece on Helen Thomas:

While Bush dislikes Thomas, he and his news managers are still savvy enough to recognize her usefulness to the administration. When Fleischer changed the seating chart in the briefing room last year, he could have exiled Thomas to the back row. Instead, he kept her down front, where he uses her as his foil, addressing her liberally by first name so other White House officials reading the transcript can chuckle to themselves—We’re safe! It’s another a question from that wacky Helen Thomas. When Fleischer calls on her, he hopes she’ll heckle him and savage Bush with her eccentric, combative, accusatory, and unreasonably phrased questions—because they’re so easily evaded. “We will temporarily suspend the Q & A portion of today’s briefing to bring you this advocacy minute,” Fleischer responded to a line of Thomas questioning at the Feb. 26 press briefing. The moment of comic relief lifts Fleischer and soils Thomas.

One would think.

*Note: John Lemon and I mentally linked Thomas with Ross Perot’s famous “crazy aunt in the basement,” demonstrating once again that great minds think alike.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.