House Speaker Pelosi Wants to Make Sure She Gets Her Perks

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Increased Access

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pressing the White House for increased use of military aircraft for domestic flights — not just for herself, but also for staff, relatives and others. The Washington Times reports former Speaker Dennis Hastert was given use of military flights as a security measure after 9/11. But Pelosi's request is said to go beyond what Hastert got. One source says Pelosi's office is pressing the point of her succession — she's next in line after the vice president — and that the Department of Defense needs to "play ball with the speaker's needs."

A Pelosi aide tells the Times that her request is related to security and that negotiations with the administration are ongoing.

Troop Surge

That new FOX News poll shows that Americans oppose the President's new plan for Iraq, even when the issue is framed in the very words the President has been using. Asked if the President's plan should be given a chance to work, or if it's clear it will not succeed, only 41 percent said it should be given a chance, with 49 percent saying it should not.

But that does not mean people think much of what Congress is trying to do. Asked if a resolution opposing the troop surge would make a positive difference or would encourage the enemy and hurt morale, only 24 percent thought it would help, with twice that many — 47 percent — saying it would hurt.

Ferocious Reaction

Defense commentator William Arkin — whose work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post — has provoked a ferocious reaction with a column on the post's Web site. Arkin — who been associated with such groups as Human Rights Watch and Greenpeace — was reacting to a report about soldiers in Iraq being frustrated by lack of support back home.

He writes, "We pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?"

The blog prompted hundreds of responses — nearly all negative. In one of the milder ones, a North Carolina man invited Arkin to dinner at his house. "We shall feast." he said, "and you will enjoy our Southern hospitality. However, please note that as soon as the eatin's done, I gonna stomp your sorry ass into a greasy spot."

Jacques in a Box

French President Jacques Chirac shocked a group of journalists this week with this statement about Iran's nuclear program: "I would say that what is dangerous about this situation is not the fact of having a nuclear bomb. Having one or perhaps a second bomb a little later, well, that's not very dangerous. But what is very dangerous is proliferation."

Chirac summoned the reporters back the next day to retract the comments, saying he thought he was off the record.

—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.

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