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.