Slate: Washington Buzz -week ended 8/25/06

August 26, 2006

DC capZeitgeist Checklist
What Washington’s talking about this week.
By Dana Milbank
Posted Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006, at 1:57 AM ET

Misunderestimated
Iraq. It’s getting lonelier for President Bush, as even hawk Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., scolds the administration for its “mission accomplished, last throes, a few dead-enders” happy talk. A day after Bush says there’s no civil war, the Pentagon announces it will fight the uncivil war with the first involuntary call-up in years.

Farsi-cal
Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad scoffs at U.N. demand that Iran stop uranium enrichment. Bush administration wants sanctions but Russia and China immediately go wobbly. And, House intelligence committee says it has no confidence that spy agencies know what Tehran is up to.

No Plan B for Conservatives
Culture wars. Administration infuriates its base by approving over-the-counter sales of “morning after” contraceptive. Anti-abortion groups say the drug is just as immoral as stem-cell research. Girls younger than 18 still need a prescription or a fake ID, but they don’t vote.

Help Wanted
Middle East. United Nations needs 15,000 troops to enforce Lebanon cease-fire, but Italy is alone in offering 3,000 troops. France is shamed into raising its offer from 200 to 2,000, as U.S.-bashing Europeans decide they’d rather not get their boots dirty. American focus turns to Fox News journalists kidnapped in Gaza; Jesse Jackson to the rescue?

Be Somewhat Afraid
Homeland security. Bush bounces up to 42 percent support in Gallup and CNN polls as his terrorism numbers rise because of British airplane plot. But CBS/New York Times poll finds him back at 36, with GOP facing 15-point disadvantage in November midterms.

Home Equity Groan
Economy. Wall Street slumps as existing-home sales fall to 30-month low, worse than economists feared. Bush advises GOP candidates: “I’d say, ‘Look at what the economy has done. It’s strong.’

Storm Stories
Katrina. Spike Lee and every think tank in town do Katrina retrospectives, reminding everybody about the White House’s most famous failure. Bush’s best hope: Plans for the fifth anniversary of 9/11 will, er, swamp the Katrina craze.

Supersize Us
Science. Two big studies prove that being even modestly overweight shortens your life. Even the fitness-mad president fails the Body Mass Index test. No comment from the speaker of the House. Chicago responds to the threat by banning foie gras.

Size Matters
Mystery. Pluto, teased with planetary status just a week ago, is now told it is too small. It will join a lesser class of extraterrestrial objects likely to include ex-Paramount star Tom Cruise and dubious JonBenet confessor John Mark Karr.

Third Degree Burns
Republicans. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., already embattled because of ties to ex-superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, debuts on YouTube with clip of him falling asleep at agriculture hearing. This after disparaging firefighters and joking that his “little Guatemalan” house painter was illegal. Burns escapes full-macaca treatment by media, which are distracted by endless George Allen apologies.

Dana Milbank writes the Washington Post‘s Washington Sketch column.

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