Politics & Policy

Pelosi Air

V-Day on the Hill.

In an interview this morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that the controversy over her transportation was a controversy only because she’s a critic of the Iraq war and the Pentagon is trying to punish her and/or because she is a woman.

In the interview, which MSNBC has been airing repeatedly over the last few hours, Pelosi explained that she wanted a plane that would go non-stop from D.C. to San Francisco. If she couldn’t get one, she wanted to go commercial non-stop from D.C. to San Fran like she did in pre-Speaker days.

Fine. I hate stopovers, too.

But then she moved on to conduct unbecoming a Speaker.

First, she suggested that the Pentagon was punishing her for being an Iraq war critic. Don Rumsfeld, she said accusatorily, still has an office in the Department of Defense. We’re supposed to believe, in other words, that George Bush, who threw the former Defense secretary overboard as an election scapegoat right after Pelosi’s party took Congress, is keeping him there at the Punish Pelosi assignment desk.

Sorry, I’m not believin’.

But this is evidently how Dems want to lead–with catty accusations and threats. On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman John Murtha, chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee in the House–and Pelosi’s original pick for Minority Leader–threatened the Pentagon. He warned that the Pentagon had made “a mistake” by leaking information about the Speaker’s transportation to the press “since she decides on the allocations for the Department of Defense.”

Now we could all do without the leaking, but Murtha’s response is worthy of censure.

This morning, too, Nancy Pelosi hit below the belt, pulling out the gender card. She said,  “As a woman, as a woman Speaker of the House, I don’t want any less opportunity than male Speakers have had when they’ve served here.”

But even Katie Couric–whom I last noticed when she was complaining that there were not enough women in a room of news anchors and top White House staff–got why this is a story. Last night she reported: “At a time when they’re cracking down on congressional perks, the new Speaker of the House is apparently asking for a big travel upgrade.”

As has been reported by various outlets, Pelosi has been provided the same transportation former Speaker Dennis Hastert was provided. The plane he used could not make it to San Francisco non-stop, and unless something else becomes available, Pelosi wouldn’t get anything more elaborate than he did.

So where’s the political punishment? Where’s the gender oppression?

In response to Pelosi’s accusations, House Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling told National Review Online: “I don’t think that’s the case.  The American people know government waste and extravagance when they see it, and Speaker Pelosi is dealing with the repercussions of that.”

Hensarling added: “The Today Show wouldn’t be broadcasting this to millions of American families unless it resonated.  Requesting such a special plane, one that is typically used by the president, vice president, and secretary of State, is rather disingenuous after campaigning for a year on fiscal responsibility and the most moral congress in history.”

In response to Murtha’s threat, Hensarling said: “Congressman Murtha’s decision to threaten the Pentagon after this story was made public is reckless and irresponsible, particularly while our nation is at war.  It is hard to believe that any member of Congress would threaten funding for the Pentagon and men and women of our armed forces, simply because Speaker Pelosi wasn’t given her own 42 seat military jet.  It is especially surprising that these comments would come from someone who has served his nation with great courage and sacrifice.”

“This is really something that is very strange,” Speaker Pelosi said this morning. I hope by that, Madam Speaker, you mean odd, as in rare. Put that victim card away, please. It’s unbecoming.


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