WASHINGTON, March 21 (UPI) -- President Bush called on Helen Thomas, the grande dame of the White House press corps, for the first time in three years Tuesday at a news conference.
The president began by complimenting her performance at the recent Gridiron Dinner, where she appeared as Hillary Clinton playing Scarlett O'Hara or vice versa. When Thomas realized he was actually inviting a question, she warned Bush "You're going to be sorry" and he answered "Well, then I take it back."
Thomas began covering the White House for United Press International during the Kennedy administration and, as senior wire service reporter for many years, had the privilege of asking the first question. More recently, she has been a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.
Thomas's question was basically why Bush wanted to go to war, although it was wrapped in suggestions that most reasons for the invasion of Iraq have turned out to be invalid.
The president got the better of the exchange or at least had the last word, although Thomas -- a consistent administration critic -- tried to interrupt him several times to clarify her question.