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Dan Thomasson


 a longtime Washington journalist and former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers, has covered many of the country’s defining moments and continues to write a syndicated column that examines current events ranging from immigration policy to the gun control debate to Google Glass.

At IU, the Shelbyville native studied education, was editor of the Indiana Daily Student, chairman of Little 500 and president of the IU Student Foundation. He also worked as a stringer for AP while in Bloomington. He graduated in 1960.

Thomasson first joined The Indianapolis Star, where he stayed until he was drafted. At Fort Sill, Okla., he edited the post newspaper and moonlighted as night news director for the Lawton (Okla.) ABC news affiliate and as a reporter for the Lawton Constitution.

His career took him to the Rocky Mountain News, where he was political editor, and, in 1964, newspaper owner Scripps Howard sent Thomasson to Washington, where he covered Sen. Edward Kennedy’s accident that killed a young campaign worker in Chappaquiddick, Mass. , and broke the story of President John F. Kennedy’s affairs.

He covered Congress, presidential election campaigns and conventions as chief congressional correspondent for the chain. He was promoted to managing editor, then editor of Scripps Howard News Service and, by 1986, vice president for news. In 1996, he was named vice president of the organization.

Thomasson continued to report and write columns even as he rose through the ranks. He wrote about FBI actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge, and about the Atlanta and Oklahoma City bombings. Since his retirement in 1999, Thomasson writes a syndicated weekly column covering current topics.

When inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1997, Thomasson told the organization’s biographer that he is most proud of his 23 years with the Scripps Howard News Service. Under his leadership, the service expanded from an in-house operation to an international wire service with hundreds of clients.

Thomasson is a trustee at Franklin (Ind.) College and is a member of several journalism schools’ advisory boards, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Raymond Clapper Foundation, the Gridiron Club and the National Press Club. He was inducted into the Society of Professional Journalists' Washington, D.C., chapter's Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1997.


Sanders youths should face reality
arine Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller reportedly once said that, given an army of 18-year-olds, he could conquer the world.

The remark came during testimony in the famous court martial of Matthew McKeon, a Marine drill instructor who ill-advisedly led his young trainees into a swamp in which several of them died.

In 1968, Minn. Sen. Eugene McCarthy applied those principles in mobilizing an army of 18- to 26-yearolds in an attempt to win the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination based on opposition to the Vietnam War.

McCarthy failed, but not before giving his party’s establishment — including Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey — a severe headache.

The tendency of youths to follow the dictates of the left side of their hearts is a natural condition.

Being liberal, or progressive (to use the current, popular label for those philosophical leanings), is a natural condition that Winston Churchill called a defining attribute of early age. If it sounds good, buy into it.

So it is not surprising that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has amassed a following of voters in the 18- to 30-year-old age range to make the Democratic presidential race against Hillary Clinton a very close contest.

Actually, as has been pointed out over and over in this seemingly interminable squabble for the nation’s top job, tapping into this youthful energy with the help of social media is not unlike the approach that undid Clinton eight years ago.

The same blind faith in Barack Obama’s promises to make huge changes for the better of the common man and the middle class that attracted the young to his cause is not only present in the Sanders’ campaign, it is the overwhelming force (free this and free that all provided by a benevolent government is hard to resist).

Obama’s appeal, of course, was bolstered by the opportunity to show the world that we had managed to overcome some of the stigma of racism by electing a black man as our chief executive.

Obama not only rode that to victory but managed in his first two years to bring about a major reformation in health care against the opposition of the entire Republican Party in Congress and a majority of Americans.

It was his signature achievement, but it cost him and his party enormous political capital, including control of Congress.

It also gave us the tea party.

The difference in the current race for the Democratic nomination is that while Obama’s approach touched the socialistic fringes, Sanders openly embraces the ideals of that philosophy.

After years of being an “independent,” Sanders now calls himself a Democrat, socialist Democrat or whatever is convenient depending on the hour.

Take it from one who worked in the town that produced Eugene V. Debs, the icon of the American Socialist movement, Sanders is one.

In Sanders’ rhetoric, the moneyed class as represented by Wall Street is an evil empire; the billionaires should face drastic tax reform; the usurious, predatory banks need to be broken up; the middle class should take back the government; cradle-to-grave health care in the form of a single-payer plan should be adopted and private insurance eliminated; there should be free college education for everyone; and on and on.

But who pays for all this, Senator? Answer: Admittedly there must be a tax increase. Right! A big one. Is this America or … Standing in a museum gift shop in Copenhagen a number of years ago, my clerk was a neatly dressed grayhaired man, clearly of retirement age.

When I asked him why he was still working, he explained that he actually was retired from SAS, the airline, but if he wanted to take his wife out to dinner once a month, he needed supplemental income.

“My pension is good,” he explained, “but they take most of that for health care and so forth. The tax rate is a bit confiscatory.”

So much for cradle to the grave, youngsters.

Those who like old Bernie’s idealism (that’s a polite term) should understand that he has little chance of achieving anything he promises, and that if he did, this country’s foundation of free enterprise grounded in incentive would disappear.

A word to his youthful supporters: All politics should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. 

— Dan Thomasson is a columnist with Tribune News Service. Reach him at .