We Are All French

"We are all French" and "Vive La France" - that was part of the mantra at the White House during this extraordinary week. Millions of people around the world were saddened and angered by the ISIS attack in Paris, as we were 10 months earlier, during the killings at Charlie Hebdo magazine.

President Obama invited French President Francois Hollande for meetings and a joint news conference in the East Room. I was privileged to be there and landed a seat in the fourth row. I had plenty of eye contact with President Obama - with past presidents that would have convinced them to call on me.

It was a good news conference, but really should be called an event. All the past presidents I have covered (from Lyndon Johnson on) encouraged raised hands, shouting, and spontaneity. Often as many as 20 reporters received short questions and short answers. Now the president has his list of favored reporters and usually four very long questions are asked. The answers are longer and usually repetitive.

Still, it is important to be present at a time of unfolding history. This is a dangerous time - some experts believe it is actually a third world war. This time it is the civilized world against barbaric terrorism. Presidents Obama and Hollande were forceful in their statements about terrorism. This may have been the most grim, but important press conference I have ever attended.

At the end of news conference, many of us clustered around Vice President Joe Biden, who has been flying around the world in the anti-terrorism mission. At the end, I asked him how he was holding up (his son Beau recently died). The vice president kissed me on the cheek and said "you are lovely." That was a beautiful, intimate moment in the midst of the world's horror.

After the News Event, President Obama went onto another ceremony in the East Room. He awarded 17 Medals of Freedom to men and women who have made great contributions to music, movies, sports and the other arts. There is still great room for "joie de vivre" in life - the monsters cannot take that away forever!

The next day - the Wednesday before Thanksgiving - there was another bizarre mixture of events. President Obama held intense meetings with his national security advisors. Then he gave an address to the nation at high noon. He tried to reassure Americans and others they are as safe as they can be, but urged them to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

That is a pretty wide spectrum! It might also help if officials of the 65 nations in the alliance used the same names for the terrorists. Are they ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Al Quaeda, Boko Harem, Taliban, or some vicious, deranged, power hungry lone wolves out to destroy themselves and others?

President Obama is not likely to pardon any of the terrorists if they are caught. But he did rescue two turkeys from decapitation. It was the annual event to spare two turkeys and send them to a petting zoo. Millions of their brethren do lose their heads, and end up on the dinner table. They have not retaliated against us - yet!

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!