Washington Week In Preview

Bush Is Stumping; Cheney’s Not Hunting

There will be no vice presidential shootings this week.


The president’s Presidents’ Day: President Bush will observe the national holiday by promoting his energy policy in the Midwest (putting the “power” back in that executive power). He starts with a tour of Johnson Controls, an automotive and building-parts company in Milwaukee, then talks about energy some more in Auburn Hills, Mich. The energetic president spends the night in Colorado and talks about energy again Tuesday at the National Renewable Energy Lab.

Those favoring a more conventional Presidents’ Day observance can head to Mount Vernon for a wreath-laying at George Washington’s tomb and a fife-and-drum parade. Or, you could visit the National Archives, which is celebrating Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday. Of course, Ben Franklin wasn’t president, and besides, his birthday is Jan. 17. Washington’s is Feb. 22, and Abraham Lincoln’s is Feb. 12. If you want to celebrate somebody whose birthday is actually Monday, you’ll have to settle for Patty Hearst or Ivana Trump.

Nihilistic Washington: Congress will be out of session all week for Presidents’ Day recess (read: fund-raising), but do not despair: The capital will continue to honor deliberate irrationality. The German Historical Institute will host a lecture titled “Dada: The Geographic Dimension,” at 6:30 p.m. And the largest Dada exhibit ever in the United States is at the National Gallery through May 14.


Alito’s immersion: New Justice Sam Alito takes his seat at the Supeme Court, and his first oral argument is a big one: a pair of disputes that will shape the future of American wetlands. The merged cases, Rapanos v. U.S. and Carabell v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are among of the most closely watched environmental cases in years. The justices must decide whether the Clean Water Act protects wetlands around tributaries of protected waterways; a loss by the government, which is on the same side as environmentalists, could lead to the loss of half or more of protected wetlands, environmentalists say.

One man happy about Alito’s arrival: Justice Stephen Breyer, who, after a dozen years of pouring the coffee and closing the door for his colleagues, will no longer be the most junior associate justice on the court.


We’d like to hear from Yoo: The Heritage Foundation hosts John Yoo, the chief advocate of the “unitary executive” theory the Bush administration has used to justify the expansive wartime powers it has claimed for the president. Yoo, now a Berkeley law professor, wrote the administration memos that appeared to justify the use of torture. Yoo’s theory has it that the president’s powers in wartime face few checks from Congress or the courts, and it justifies the surveillance the administration has been doing without warrants or legislative approval.

The ACLU will present a rather different view of the law earlier in the week, when it hosts a town-hall meeting Monday at George Washington University on the NSA surveillance program. Featuring Harvard’s Laurence Tribe and former Nixon counsel John Dean, the session will probe the program’s “illegality” and “unconstitutionality.”


Allies, foreign and domestic: President Bush hits the stump for embattled 2006 congressional Republicans. He’ll be in Mishawaka, Ind., to raise money for Rep. Chris Chocola, and in Ohio for Sen. Mike DeWine. While Bush stumps for congressional friends, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be in the Middle East much of the week talking with another sort of struggling allies. She’s visiting Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, hoping to persuade them to shun Iran and the Palestinians’ new Hamas government.


NGA: National Guild of Aspirants? Actually, NGA stands for National Governors Association, which holds its winter meeting in Washington. The governors will be talking earnestly and in bipartisan fashion about all manner of policy issues. But the forum is also a dog-and-pony show for many of those in both parties who hope to be president, or at least vice president: Arkansas’ Mike Huckabee (R), Iowa’s Tom Vilsack (D), Massachusetts’ Mitt Romney (R), New Mexico’s Bill Richardson (D), New York’s George Pataki (R), Florida’s Jeb Bush (R), Arizona’s Janet Napolitano (D), Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty (R), and Kansas’ Kathleen Sebelius (D). The actual president hosts the aspiring presidents for a formal dinner Sunday night at the White House.

All Week Long

Only 988 days until Election Day 2008: Huckabee will be in South Carolina Monday. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., will be in Colorado Tuesday. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., will be in Florida Thursday. Romney goes to South Carolina Thurday, then New Hampshire Friday. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., visits Colorado on Friday. Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., will spend the weekend in Iowa.