With a kind of audacious desperation, the White House clings to the claim that it's perfectly legal for John Sununu to commandeer military aircraft to fly him around for speaking engagements, Republican fund-raisers and even recreational trips to ski resorts.
Even though such flights cost 30 or 40 times the going rate for a first-class commercial flight ticket, says President Bush, Sununu's counsel is so indispensable that the president just can't be without it for a moment. If that's so, should Sununu be away from the job doing political duty?
That story might carry weight were it not for the fact that previous White House chiefs of staff seemed to function quite well, thank you, by getting around in the same manner as the ordinary taxpayer who must foot the bill for Sununu's sultan-style sojourns.
Legal or not, it's wrong for government factotums to indulge in such conspicuous waste at a time when those same functionaries are imposing merciless austerity on the worthiest of social programs in this time of recession and hardship.