Washington Week In Preview

Bush: Mission Still Accomplished

What’s really happening in politics this week.


Mission accomplished, cont’d.: For those who missed the first 999,999 performances, President Bush will give a speech about Iraq—the first of three this week—in advance of the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion. “The president is going to be giving a series of speeches to update the American people on our strategy for victory in Iraq,” says White House press secretary Scott McClellan. Also on the president’s mind: The 59 percent of Americans in last week’s Washington Post/ABC News poll who say they disapprove of the way Bush has handled the situation in Iraq—no surprise with all that talk of civil war.

A dog-handler’s day: Sgt. Michael J. Smith, aka “The Dog Handler,” faces a court martial at Fort Meade in Maryland. Smith, a 24-year-old Fort Lauderdale man, is accused of using his unmuzzled canine to harass and attack detainees at Abu Ghraib in 2003 and 2004—the period when many of the now-famous photos were taken of unclothed and otherwise humiliated soldiers in the prison. Smith and another dog-handler, prosecutors say, had a special game: They tried to frighten prisoners until they soiled themselves. Smith now has a chance to play the other side in the humiliation game; his trial should run through the week and could indicate who else knew about the abuse.

Cosmic: NASA releases the results of its studies of “comet samples” returned to Earth by the Stardust spacecraft earlier this year. Word is the scientists found carbon molecules in the cosmic dust, supporting the notion that the materials for life on Earth came from a galaxy far, far away, possibly Kansas. The dust comes from comet Wild 2, which Stardust visited two years ago. The Houston briefing is expected to be, to use the technical term, far out.


Earthy: Closer to home, John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, returns on Tuesday to the Senate, which declined to confirm him to the post before President Bush gave him a recess appointment. The fierce-tempered diplomat will give the Senate foreign relations committee a “status report” on U.N. reform. Whatever the United Nations has done, you can be certain that Bolton will say it has not done enough; he famously opined that U.N. headquarters wouldn’t suffer if it lost 10 floors. But Bolton can’t lollygag on the Hill. In New York, the Security Council will take up the question of Iran’s nukes as early as Tuesday.

Iraqblitz. Iranpass. North Koreapunt: Sen. George Allen, R-Va., known more for his football imagery than for his mastery of international affairs, gives a foreign-policy briefing to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The one-time University of Virginia second-string quarterback, son of the great Redskins coach, is eager to display his statesmanship as he, er, kicks off his presidential campaign.


Democracy good, terrorists bad: Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state/ exercise-video model, is scheduled to deliver a “major” speech during a stop in Indonesia Wednesday. The State Department is coy about her message, though aides allow that she will be discussing “democracy.” Let’s go out on a limb and predict that she’s for it. From there, she goes to Australia for a Vegemite sandwich and trilateral talks with the Japanese and Australians.

Unindicted and uninhibited: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, neither exonerated nor charged in the leak investigation, continues his public re-emergence as keynote speaker of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Businessman of the Year” luncheon. Ineligible this year: Edward Bilkey, COO of Dubai Ports World. Rove’s boss, the president, speaks to the NRCC on Thursday night.

Will they serve beer? The Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, hosts Harvey C. Mansfield, who, “Drawing from science, literature, and philosophy … examines the layers of manliness, from vulgar aggression, to assertive manliness, to manliness as virtue, and to philosophical manliness. He shows that manliness seeks and welcomes drama, prefers times of war, conflict, and risk, and brings change or restores order at crucial moments. Manly men in their assertiveness raise issues, bring them to the fore, and make them public and political—as for example, the manliness of the women’s movement.” 4 p.m., 1015 15th Street NW, Sixth Floor.


Defiance, Act II: Fresh from its rare triumph over Bush on the Dubai Ports fight, Congress chops up the president’s 2007 budget. Last week, the Senate budget committee passed a 2007 plan that rejected Bush’s cuts to Medicare and ignored his demand to make the tax cuts permanent. The package will be debated all week on the Senate floor and is tentatively scheduled for a late-Thursday vote. Thrown in for good measure: one more attempt at opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.


The one week we can use the word “taoiseach”: For St. Patrick’s Day, Bush will host Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern for the traditional Shamrock Ceremony. The president and the taoiseach—yes!—will meet in the Oval Office, then join the U.K. secretary of state for Northern Ireland for a moment of peace and civility.