The plane, the plane!

It's the RNC vs. Tony Snow in a media frenzy over Nancy Pelosi's flight plans.

By Tim Grieve
Published February 8, 2007 9:22PM (EST)

This morning at the White House, Tony Snow said a GOP-fed media frenzy about the type of military plane Nancy Pelosi is entitled to use as the person two heartbeats away from the presidency is "silly" and "unfair to the speaker."

Snow's comments came at right about the same moment that the Republican National Committee distributed an e-mail "briefing paper" on the scandal that isn't. Titled "Pelosi's Power Trip," the RNC's message features 13 press snippets about Pelosi and the plane -- including six from the Washington Times and one each from Tucker Carlson, Fox News and Rupert Murdoch's New York Post.

So is this a case where the RNC and the White House have two different agendas, or is it just a matter of Tony Snow looking to stake out the "plausible deniability" high ground? Here's how Snow addressed it later in the day at the White House press briefing:

Reporter: You called the Pelosi plane issue a silly story this morning, and shortly thereafter, the RNC put out a statement saying -- calling it "Pelosi's Power Trip" and that she's -- you know, "Non-stop Nancy Seeks Flight of Fancy." Are you --

Snow: Well, I'll reiterate our position. The question -- the RNC has put out a statement on Speaker Pelosi and travel arrangements. And I'll just repeat our position, which is as speaker of the House, she is entitled to military transport and that the arrangements -- the proper arrangements are being made between the Sergeant of Arms Office in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Department of Defense. We think it's appropriate, and so I -- again, I think this is much ado about not a whole lot. It is important for the speaker to have this kind of protection and travel. It was certainly appropriate for Speaker Hastert. And so we trust that all sides will get this worked out.

Reporter: So Tony, is it inappropriate for the RNC then to make an issue out of this and say -- I mean, ridiculing her as nonstop Nancy, flights of fancy --

Snow: Well, I just -- Jonathan, you know what my position is. I will let you draw whatever conclusions you may. But our position's pretty clear on this one.

Here's what we'll be watching to see: Will the right-leaning media, the right-wing blogosphere and Republicans in Congress take their cues from the White House or from the RNC? And here's the preliminary answer: Sorry, Tony.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Nancy Pelosi D-calif.