Now the latest non-scandal dreamed up by Republicans is "Pelosi One."
Following 9/11, the government decided that the Speaker of the House — third in line to the presidency — should travel on military aircraft for security reasons. For Dennis Hastert — the only speaker affected up until now — getting home meant flying to Illinois from Washington, something well within the nonstop range of the military version of executive jets.
But Pelosi lives in California, and the kind of plane Hastert used can't get there without stopping to refuel. The main aircraft that can make the trip nonstop is a modified Boeing 757 that is much larger than the plane Hastert flew in. Hence the attempts to paint Pelosi as "demanding" a plane fit for a king.
Putting aside the fact that Vice President Cheney gets around in a similar plane, let's agree that a 757 is a bit much for one person to have, even if that person is third in line for the presidency. Surely there are smaller planes that can fly cross-country without having to refuel.
Still, there's no "there" there. The negotiations didn't involve Pelosi or her office; they were conducted entirely by the House sergeant-at-arms. Pelosi merely said that she would like to be able to make the trip without refueling, and if there was no plane available with that capability she preferred to fly commercial instead.
Now, one can certainly speculate that she was free to say all that, knowing that only one plane was big enough for the job and that her security people wouldn't let her fly commercial. But there's simply no evidence to suggest that that's what happened.
Other Republican attempts to make hay out of this were simply stupid. They claim Pelosi wants the bigger plane so she can fly family and supporters around. This ignores the fact that Pelosi recently led the House in passing new ethics rule that forbid most such practices, and that in addition the military planes come with rather strict restrictions of their own, including severe limits on family travel — which must then be reimbursed.
Pelosi did herself no favors by publicly speculating that the White House or the Pentagon were behind the brouhaha. It made her look small, shrill and paranoid. She'll have to be better and tougher than that, or else she'll find herself being mocked for her own version of Hillary Clinton's "vast right-wing conspiracy" speech. But that's an aside. Interestingly, while speculating that the White House might be involved, she said quite firmly that she knew President Bush wasn't, because he had impressed upon her the need for security.