At first, it was hard to pay attention to this scrap between the military and Nancy Pelosi over how big of a military plane she’d get, but when it gets to the point where Pelosi wants to inconvenience the troops so she can shuttle her political supporters around the country with her, that’s a little much (emphasis mine):
The Department of Defense yesterday sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that puts limits on the size of the plane she may use to travel across the country and restricts the guests she can bring, The Washington Times has learned.
A congressional source who read the letter signed by Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Wilkie said it essentially limits her to the commuter plane used by former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, which requires refueling to travel from Washington to Mrs. Pelosi’s San Francisco district. A second source, in the Bush administration, confirmed the contents of the letter.
… The letter from the Pentagon yesterday cites specific U.S. Code that government policy does not include the routine use of military aircraft for the speaker of the House.
“Nonstop service is not guaranteed, meaning she’s getting Hastert’s plane and nothing bigger,” the congressional source said, referring to the commuter jet Mr. Hastert began using for security reasons after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The letter leaves open the possibility that Mrs. Pelosi may get a larger plane that does not require refueling if one happens to be available in the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base. But, generally, the larger military passenger jets are in high demand, especially due to the Iraq war.
In addition, the letter stipulates that the Air Force will only fly her between Washington and her San Francisco district and places limits on who can travel with her.
…The Washington Times reported earlier this week that the Pentagon denied a request by Mrs. Pelosi to fly on a military aircraft to last weekend’s Democratic retreat in Williamsburg, a two-hour drive from Washington.
“Non-governmental personnel, i.e. political supporters and contributors, may not fly,” the congressional source said yesterday, paraphrasing the letter sent to Mrs. Pelosi. “The plane may not ferry her to any political events and other members may only accompany her after approval by the House ethics committee, which means Republicans would have to OK it.”
If it were up to Nancy Pelosi, the troops getting ready to go overseas would sit and wait for a larger plane while she had the military ferry her and her campaign contributors across the country on junkets. The military is not a taxi service.
But setting that aside, aren’t liberals always trying to claim, in one way or another, that the threat of terrorism is overblown? So, shouldn’t Nancy say that a military jet is no longer necessary? Why not fly commercial like everybody else if we have nothing to worry about, Nancy?
Update #1: Now the Democrats are actually starting to threaten the military for not catering to Princess Pelosi’s desire for a snazzier plane to fly lobbyists around in:
“Murtha said he is convinced the Pentagon has been leaking information about the possibility that Pelosi would use large military planes to make her look bad. But he said, “They’re making a mistake when they leak it because she decides on allocations for them,” referring to the Pentagon budget.”
Translation: The people who may need that plane because of the war in Iraq can just wait in line behind Nancy Pelosi or the Democrats will go after military funding to retaliate.
How ridiculously petty…
Update #2: The Bush Administration is so politically inept that they make the Carter Administration look like slick, political operators. So, naturally, just as the plane story is starting to gain a little traction it’s the Bush Administration to the rescue:
“White House Defends Pelosi Plane Request
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Thursday defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi against Republican criticism that her desire to fly in an Air Force transport plane is an extravagance.
“This is a silly story and I think it’s been unfair to the speaker,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said.”
As a thank you for the political help, Nancy Pelosi will turn around and try to verbally gouge George Bush’s eyeballs out with a rusty spoon the next time he looks bad on an issue. That’s how it has worked for more than 6 years, but obviously the Bushies think that if they’re nice to Nancy, maybe she’ll change her ways.
Someone needs to tell the Bush Administration that, “Nice guys finish last,” in Washington and maybe, one of these days, it’ll sink in.