I told my boss that I needed a private jet to make monthly visits to Costa Rica or else I’d QUIT effective immediately. Fortunately, I still have my job.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the other hand is not only entitled to but also required to receive the private government aviation that she has asked for according to new security regulations put in place after 9/11.
Perhaps it is the gentleman in me or the fact that I am an honest broker who can look at things and see them for what they are – and what we have with this “Planegate” story is nothing more than cheap politics.
To recap the pseudo-controversy, Speaker Pelosi’s office requested the Pentagon for use of a military plane that would have the ability to make cross-country flights so that she would not have to stop and refuel. Speaker Hastert, in accordance with the new regulations, flew aboard military air on a C20 (the equivalent of a GulfStream III) back and forth to Aurora, Illinois. But a C20 cannot handle non-stop cross-country flights. At present, the DOD is offering Pelosi only what Hastert was afforded and nothing more. Pelosi has been quoted as asking for a swank C32 (the equivalent of a 757) but she indicated today that she would be willing to accept “any aircraft” that could make the coast-to-coast journey without stopping.
Even my old boss Tony Snow saw through this weak attempt to manufacture a story, coming to the Speaker’s defense today:
“This is a silly story and I think it’s been unfair to the Speaker. What happened in the wake of September 11th, is the Dept of Defense, in order to protect the Speaker, began offering aircraft to the Speaker of the House of Representatives; did it with Speaker Hastert, doing so with Speaker Pelosi.”
Snow also offered that he felt like there had been a lot of “over-hyped reporting” on this matter. The basis for the regulations change lies in the fact that the Speaker of the House is second in line of succession for the President in the event of an emergency. The Vice-President is first in line and the President Pro-Tem of the Senate is third (currently Robert C. Byrd!). And there is no “Byrd One” operating as of yet.
I’ve booked private planes for bosses of old. The choice of aircraft is almost always governed by choosing the cheapest option that can make the required distance. There are numerous planes that can make cross-country flights that aren’t as big as a 757. For example, the Citation X seats 7-9 and would cost about half of a 757 to operate. And I suspect when it’s all said and done, Speaker Pelosi will have such an aircraft at her disposal.
Speaker Pelosi is also being attacked on two other illegitimate fronts:
Number Two – A story today makes hay out of the fact that Pelosi is riding in a government gas-guzzling SUV tomorrow to a Global Climate hearing. But it’s a non-story because all members ride in government SUVs as provided by the Sgt in Arms and the Capitol Police.
Number Three – Speaker Pelosi is catching heat for trying to re-instate the “five day work week” for members of Congress. Pathetic story in my opinion because most of us working stiffs wouldn’t mind watching the emperors do a little heavy lifting from time to time.
Those participating in the partisan games may want to consider bewaring the Ides of March… because Washington is about to “hath no fury like a woman Speaker scorned!”