Washington Week In Preview

Brownie’s Triumphant Return

What’s really happening in Washington this week.


White House: Heal thyself. The White House is following a strategy of pre-emption in anticipation of a Wednesday House report on Hurricane Katrina that is likely to portray the administration in an unflattering light. On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff and White House homeland security adviser Fran Townsend will speak at the National Emergency Management Association’s midyear conference and are expected to unveil some of the conclusions of the White House’s own internal report on its Katrina response.

But it will be difficult for the White House to get in front of this tidal surge. Former FEMA Director Mike “Brownie” Brown, who wowed the Senate governmental affairs committee on Friday, was ordered to do the same in private over the weekend for the House committee probing Katrina. On Tuesday, Chertoff has a Valentine’s Day appearance before the Senate committee, and the arrows won’t be coming from Cupid.

Kofi klatch. President Bush hosts U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan at the White House on Monday for a chat about Sudan. Annan, never bosom buddies with the president, may have made a tactical error last week when he announced publicly that he intends to ask Bush for a major U.S. role in any U.N. peacekeeping force sent to Darfur. That means that if Bush agrees to Annan’s request, he risks the appearance that he’s yielding to pressure from the United Nations—something that would not sit well with the president’s conservative base.

Shafting the Republicans? House Democrats bring family members of miners killed in accidents in West Virginia and Alabama to a “forum about the tragedies” in the Rayburn Building.


Athletic supporter. Say what you will about Iraq, the economy, and health care. When it comes to championship athletes, nobody can dispute that the president is a good sport. Today he brings the University of Texas football team to the White House, a day after he was visited by the Chicago White Sox.

Bush has already had 49 meetings with championship teams, according to statistical guru Mark Knoller of CBS News, which means hundreds if not thousands of athletes—from Winston Cup drivers to the Detroit Shock of the WNBA—have shuffled through the executive mansion. On a single day last July—the White House calls such events “Championship Day”—Bush played host to the UCLA men’s and women’s water polo teams, the Georgia men’s golf and women’s gymnastics teams, the Northwestern women’s lacrosse squad, the Michigan softball team, the Stanford women’s tennis team, the Minnesota women’s hockey team, the Auburn men’s swimming team, the Duke women’s golf team, the Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse team, the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team, and the Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team.

State dinners these are not. Last year, members of Northwestern’s women’s lacrosse team wore flip-flops for the occasion.

Bring Xanax. The conservative American Enterprise Institute hosts an all-day forum titled “Panic Attack,” including sessions on “The Politics of Fear.” 9 a.m., at 1150 17th St. NW … if you dare.


The new maestro. When the New York Times asked Sen. George Allen what he thought about Ben Bernanke’s nomination, the Virginia Republican replied, “For what?” Bernanke, who just replaced Alan Greenspan as Fed chairman, gets a chance to improve his visibility on Wednesday and Thursday when he appears before Congress to deliver the Federal Reserve system’s semiannual economic report. Also due out: the annual Economic Report of the President, from the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Bush Cabinet members, hats in hand, continue their march through the congressional committee rooms, mostly to testify about budget matters. Secretary of State Condi Rice and Treasury Secretary John Snow will climb the Hill Tuesday, and Rice will return Thursday. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao makes the trip Thursday, as does Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.


This place must be wired. The Bush administration’s national security apparatus continues to expose itself to prying eyes at the National Press Club. On Friday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace gives a luncheon talk at the club on 14th Street—the same venue where Gen. Michael Hayden, deputy national intelligence director, spoke about the NSA eavesdropping program last month.

All Week Long

Nine-hundred ninety-five days until Election Day 2008. Monday, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is scheduled to be wrapping up a trip to Iowa. Sen.Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., talks to the AARP in Washington Tuesday, the same day Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., is scheduled to talk to the Heritage Foundation about Iran. On Friday, Republican Gov. George Pataki of New York goes to New Hampshire, and Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts goes to South Carolina.