What Washington is talking about this week.

What Washington is talking about.
Nov. 17 2006 6:52 PM

Zeitgeist Checklist, Quagmire Edition

What Washington is talking about this week.

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1. Last week: 6 Weeks on list: 21 [UP ARROW]

No Rest For the Weary Iraq. Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, warns that pulling troops out of Iraq would cause more unrest. At this point, sending an entire battalion of insomniacs into Iraq couldn't cause more unrest. Now the Bush administration is counting on the Iraq Study Group to chart a new course for the war. A study group? If the Zeitgeist remembers college, study groups are generally good for pizza and flirting, but not so good for stabilizing the Middle East.

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2. Last week: 1 Weeks on list: 8 [DOWN ARROW]

Nancy's Boy Democrats. The infighting begins! House Democrats reject Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi's choice for her second in command, Rep. John Murtha, Pa., after he calls her lobbying reform plans "total crap." Clearly, Democrats aren't ready to govern; Republicans know that when your leader's plans are "total crap," you keep your mouth shut. Murtha was also damaged by an Abscam video that showed him saying "maybe later" after being offered a bribe. Maybe later? Clearly, Democrats aren't ready to govern.

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3. Last week: 4 Weeks on list: 10 [UP ARROW]

Reinvention Today, Reinvention Forever!
Republicans. The GOP caucus chooses Trent Lott of Mississippi to be Senate minority whip, four years after he was forced out of the leadership for ill-advised comments that appeared to express nostalgia for segregation. He's allowed to keep his job as long as he doesn't try to use the words minority and whip in the same sentence.

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4. Last week: 2 Weeks on list: 2 [DOWN ARROW]

Check Back in a Decade White House. President Bush inaugurates his new era of bipartisanship by renominating some conservative judges, accusing Democrats of isolationism, and describing Pelosi as "the kind of grandmother who burns your pancakes." Bush also visits Vietnam, where he praises the country's economic reforms and says he wishes there were some way to create another Vietnam.

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5. New This Week [UP ARROW]

Just Back Off North Korea. On his Vietnam trip, the president warns North Korea's Kim Jong-il that if he continues his nuclear program, the United States will take serious action. Somewhere, Donald Rumsfeld is drawing up plans to invade Bolivia. Bush also savages Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, raising the specter of an alliance between two of the world's craziest people. In other news, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting married in Italy.

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6. Last week: 8 Weeks on list: 2 [UP ARROW]

He Also Believes in a Place Called Hope 2008. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Tommy Thompson all start running for the GOP presidential nomination. Giuliani hopes voters will appreciate his 9/11 heroism; McCain hopes voters will appreciate his Vietnam heroism; Thompson hopes voters will have a clue who he is. Meanwhile, reformed plagiarist Joe Biden is the latest Democratic long shot to throw his hat into the ring, explaining that "hope is the thing with feathers."

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7. New This Week [UP ARROW]

If I'm a Sociopath, Here's How To Tell
Crime. O.J. Simpson gives an interview to Fox News to hype his hypothetical snuff book, If I Did It, Here's How. Is there a hypothetical death penalty? Actually, this was supposed to be a half-hour interview, but Judge Lance Ito let it drag on for six weeks.

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8. New This Week [UP ARROW]

The Friendly Skies Business. U.S. Airways makes an $8 billion offer to buy Delta, a move that would create America's largest airline. Delta accepts the offer, but then announces that the merger will be delayed and refuses to say for how long. Eventually, Delta plans to cancel the deal and to tell U.S. Airways that if it wants new terms it will have to pay a $6 billion change fee.

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9. New This Week [UP ARROW]

The Sony Insurgents Christmas. The holiday season is shaping up as a time of bitterness and violence, pitting neighbor against neighbor. But nobody said buying the new PlayStation would be easy.

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10. New This Week [UP ARROW]

The Wizards Could Use a Shooter … Sports. It's a new era of accountability in D.C. The Washington Nationals, after two years of mediocre results, install a new manager. The Washington Redskins, after half a season of awful results, install a new quarterback. In unrelated news, Bush once again expresses full confidence in Vice President Cheney.

Michael Grunwald, a staff reporter for the Washington Post, is the author of The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise.