June 15, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane

By: John Tabin

Nancy Pelosi apparently thinks that you should not only pay for members of Congress to take official trips, you should pay for their kids to tag along, too. “It has been longstanding policy that, in the absence of a congressional spouse, the adult child of a member of Congress may accompany the member on official U.S. government travel abroad for protocol reasons and without reimbursing the U.S. Treasury,” a Pelosi spokesman told The Hill. This is not true: Department of Defense policy in fact demands that the Treasury be reimbursed at commercial rates when lawmakers’ kids use military aircraft for official travel. The Pentagon is expecting a fight with the Speaker over the issue.

Pelosi’s demand is especially interesting when one considers the oeuvre of her daughter, documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi. Best known for Journeys with George, in which she followed George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign, she’s also directed Diary of a Political Tourist, in which she traveled with the Democratic hopefuls during the 2004 primary. Her most recent work, about fundamentalist Christians, is Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi. In other words, Alexandra Pelosi makes her living by filming her travels. Is the Speaker attempting to force taxpayers to underwrite her daughter’s next project?

President Bush’s approval rating hit a new low in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll this week, coming in at 29 percent, down from 35 percent in April. Most of the drop consists of Republicans abandoning Bush, whose approval rating among his co-partisans fell from 75 to 62 percent. Discontent amongst the GOP rank and file seems to have been driven largely by the immigration debate. As previously noted in this space (third item), conservatives alienated by the immigration debate “don’t want to do what’s right for America,” so presumably Bush doesn’t mind losing their support.

In the same poll the Democratic Congress registered a 23 percent approval rating, down from 31 percent in April. In October, just before the 2006 election, the then-Republican Congress had a 16 percent approval rating. At least the Democrats have something to shoot for.

Mike Gravel, the Democratic presidential candidate and noted crazy old coot, is speaking tomorrow at a conference organized by the National Taxpayer’s Union. Gravel supports the “Fair Tax” — a national retail sales tax couple “prebates” to offset the taxes on spending up to the poverty line — so it makes some sense that he’d be attending a conference of tax reformers, even if it does mean that he’ll be surrounded mostly by conservatives.

Just be sure he knows where he is. Yesterday he thought he was on the radio with Dr. Laura Schlessinger. In fact, he was on with Laura Ingraham. If Gravel begins giving his NTU speech in Mandarin Chinese, someone tap him on the shoulder and explain that he is not at National Taiwan University.

John Tabin is a columnist for Brainwash.