Since 9/11, the Speaker of the House has been allowed to use military planes for Congressional business. This makes sense to me, considering the Speaker of the House takes over if the President and Vice President are incapacitated or impeached, neither of which is that enticing a prospect.
Former Speaker Dennis Hastert used a 12 seat military jet. Current Speaker Nancy Pelosi is alleged to want something a little bigger. Republicans are balking, Democrats are circling the wagons to protect Madame Speaker, but they're missing the larger point. The Democrats have shot themselves in the foot with this issue.
Democrats swept into power in the House and somewhat in the Senate by suggesting that they were different from the Republicans, who they painted as out of touch with the American people and corrupt. Squabbling over the size of a military jet isn't exactly the best way to showcase how different you are, especially if you're accused of trying to get a bigger jet.
If that wasn't bad enough, John Murtha tried to throw around some muscle, saying that if the Pentagon wants funding, they'll play ball with Madame Speaker. Maybe Murtha watched a little too much of "The Sopranos," but he's not quite right. The House originates the spending by proposing a budget, but without a President's signature, nobody gets money unless Congress can override a Presidential veto. You might be able to get it in the House, but the Senate, where Democrat control is in name only...not so much.
The combination of Pelosi and Murtha have proven once again that Congressional Democrats have let power go to their heads, which has clouded their political judgment. Pelosi could prevent further damage by coming out and saying she wants the same size plane Hastert had. If she wanted to completely eliminate it, she would publicly insist on a smaller plane. As it stands, she's trying to downplay it by saying she was only making an inquiry about the size of the planes available to her, which isn't quite the same. She needs to insist on the smaller plane to regain the high ground on this issue.
Oh, and she needs to tell Murtha to shut his piehole. His not-so-veiled threat to the Pentagon made him look like someone desperate to throw around his weight instead of someone who could have helped ease tensions between the Pentagon and the Speaker's office. His ham-fisted approach is indicative of the same problem Pelosi seems to have exposed: Democrats think their Congressional power gives them unlimited power to do what they want. It doesn't. They're still subject to the separation of powers and the whim of the voters.
And given how it was the whim of the voters who swept Democrats back into power in the Congress, they should be trying to keep the voters happy.