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Speaker of the House Resigns!

Before all you PJMers fall off your seats or choke on your grits thinking you might have missed a Fox alert, be advised the speaker in question is not Mrs. Pelosi but the UK’s very own Michael Martin, speaker of the House of Commons here in Blighty.

How did this come to pass? As reported in a previous PJM submission, Britain has been gripped by a scandal involving parliamentarians of all parties featuring taxpayer money being used for moats and manure and church donations. At its very worst, the series of misdemeanors, exposed by the Daily Telegraph newspaper in a mini-Watergate-type investigation, has included MPs and ministers charging the taxpayer for ongoing payments on mortgages that had long ago come to an end, offices that apparently did not exist, and entertainment centers costing $15,000 each.

The mistakes Speaker Martin made were not so much his own financial dealings but his complete miscalculation of the public mood. At the height of the scandal he roundly criticized members of the House of Commons for talking to the press and for allowing their affairs to be aired in public. Whizz-bang! Even MPs who were themselves being revealed as guilty parties were appalled at his lack of judgment. He had already angered both parties for his apparent complicity in a police raid on Tory MP Damian Green’s home. Cabinet ministers were falling like flies but Martin was angry at them and at lawmakers for owning up and letting the public have frank admissions of their dishonesty.

It is a tribute to the decorous manner in which British parliamentarians treat their speakers and the long fuse possessed by MPs that no such action has been taken in centuries. However, in a short time in May moves were afoot to remove Speaker Martin — the first time such an event had unfolded in Parliament since 1695. In fact, as I reported in my previous article, speakers of that era were even beheaded from time to time. Martin announced his resignation date: June 21, 2009. He said to the British people, “We have let you down very badly indeed. … We must all accept the blame and, to the extent that I have contributed to the situation, I am profoundly sorry.”

In a May 24 PJM op-ed, “Pelosi’s Lies Roil Dem Establishment,” James Lewis recounts the rumblings on Capitol Hill about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hypocrisy in discussions of prosecuting Bush administration lawyers for complicity in waterboarding at Guantanamo Bay amid her claims that she was misled by the CIA during briefings in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. It is generally acknowledged, as Jennifer Rubin also reports in the PJM article of May 11, “Madame Speaker, Have You No Decency?,” that Mrs. Pelosi was fully aware of the methods being employed to extract information from high-value terror suspects in order to prevent another attack on the American mainland.

I have been researching this article with great care and can find no evidence of Speaker Pelosi acting in an improper fashion that in any way resembles the sleazy and disgraceful shenanigans committed by a host of British officials, some of whom could end up in prison and several of whom have been reported to be on suicide watch. However, the anger her pronouncements have caused, even amongst Democrats, is palpable. This I know because my left-wing friends and relatives, who barely keep in touch these days because I am a Pajammer, are indignant.

Frankly, I have to confess that I was pleased as a female when Pelosi was appointed. After all, in Britain we have had a woman in 10 Downing Street and the speaker of the House of Commons formerly was Betty Boothroyd. Israel, Pakistan, Ireland, India, Pakistan, Argentina, Germany, and New Zealand — the list goes on and on these days — have had women heads of state and I was pleased when Pelosi ascended to speaker. However, my joy was quickly dispelled when she took it upon herself to place flowers at the Hiroshima memorial. When I see films about the effects of the nuclear attacks on Japan my heart suffers, but as I am old enough to understand what a victory by the cruel Empire of the Sun would have meant to the West, I cannot bring myself to apologize.

Her unctuous behavior in Japan is not an impeachable offense, but the displeasure she has caused in recent weeks in the “affaire CIA” does cause deep offense in many; I will say to her, “Nancy, this is not going to go away.” Furthermore, the idea that she accuses the CIA of misleading Congress in 2002-03 about waterboarding, when it is highly unlikely they were kept in the dark, is a worrying aspect of her personality when she is, after all, third in line in the presidential succession.

So, how to ask the lady to move aside? Citizens, like angry Britons whose rage was completely “misunderestimated” by Labour lawmakers as seen in the disastrous British council and European election results of June 4, should contact their congressmen and senators about their dissatisfaction with the speaker. Labour, the party that lives in 10 Downing Street, suffered a staggering, history-making defeat while two ultra-right British nationalists were elected as European parliamentarians. The people spoke.

Democrats who are unhappy with Pelosi should make their voices known to their own leadership. It is, after all, something of a betrayal of her straight-down-the-line left-wing aspirations that she appears to have condoned waterboarding whilst being part of the “Bush and company are war criminals” brigade.

One of the aspects of the present British crisis of leadership that I find refreshing is the openness with which the scandal has proliferated and the fierce public debate it has engendered. The American tea party and “don’t tread on me” campaigns are a start, but if you really want to make a big change in Washington you need to get mad as hell and make the changes happen soon before it is too late. Write. Email. Fax. Get on a bus to Washington. The Pelosi gesture to Japan got my goat but the nonsense about the CIA is ugly and unworthy of a national leader.

Get writing those letters, America.