Q. Is there any level to which Helen Thomas won't stoop?
A. Apparently not.
That's my conclusion, based on Thomas's exchange during today's press gaggle with White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. Here is the front page of today's Washington Post to which Thomas refers [warning: graphic image]. A slide-show from WaPo's web edition contains another photo of what appears to be the same child, with this legend:
Two-year-old Ali Hussein is pulled from the rubble of his family's home in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq on Tuesday, April 29, 2008. The child, who later died in hospital, was in one of four homes allegedly destroyed by U.S. missiles. More than two dozen people were killed when Shiite militants ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad's embattled Sadr City district, bringing the death toll in area on Tuesday to more than 30, a U.S. military spokesman and Iraqi officials said. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Here's the exchange between Thomas and Perino.
HELEN THOMAS: Do you think it's worth a million Iraqi deaths, to continue to bomb the Iraqis who did nothing to us?
DANA PERINO: Helen, our soldiers work extremely hard to make sure that any time they're carrying out an operation, they do not --
THOMAS: I'm not saying that. Are they bombing people -- did you see the front page of the Post today, a baby?
PERINO: -- that they do not -- they do everything they possibly can to make sure that no innocent civilians are killed.
THOMAS: Oh, come on. How can you say that?
PERINO: Helen, if you want to denigrate our military, many of whom are in this room today, you can do that.
THOMAS: I'm not denigrating our military.
MS. PERINO: Yes, you are.
THOMAS: I'm saying we're bombing Iraqis for no --
PERINO: And who is bombing them? You're absolutely talking about -- our military goes to great lengths to make sure that people are protected, and this President stands behind them 100 percent.
THOMAS: Are they dying or not?
PERINO: It is extremely tragic that a young child died. I understand that that is a young mother's child, and that woman is probably grieving, unlike anything I will ever feel.