Slatest PM: Clint's Chair, a Tsunami Scare, Paul Ryan's Running Prowess, and More

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 31 2012 4:53 PM

Slatest PM: Clint's Chair, a Tsunami Scare, Paul Ryan's Running Prowess, and More

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*** NOTE: We've revamped our afternoon Slatest newsletter to deliver a text-heavy recap of the day's top stories to our subscribers' inboxes. Friday's edition, the tenth under the new format, is below. You can sign up here to receive it in your inbox daily. ***

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

WHAT SHALL WE TALK ABOUT FIRST: The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck near the Philippines earlier today, setting off serious but ultimately short-lived tsunami fears for much of the region? Ben Bernanke's forceful argument for new steps to stimulate the economy that suggested the Federal Reserve is on the verge of action? The deadly, rodent-borne virus wreaking havoc in Yosemite National Park? We'll get to those soon enough, but let's not kid ourselves: First let's talk Clint Eastwood, whose unscripted RNC speech dominated our little corner of the Web for most of the day.

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IF YOU SOMEHOW MISSED IT: You can watch the Hollywood icon debating an empty chair in which he pretended the president sat here.

WHITE HOUSE, CARE TO WEIGH IN?: "Referring all questions on this to Salvador Dali," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt emailed Politico.

HMM, SURELY SOMEONE WILL TALK ABOUT IT: David Weigel: "The actor emerged in front of a Man With No Name silhouette drawn across a generic sun-bleached landscape, and started muttering. And kept on muttering. You've been to weddings, right, where the best man starts getting too real, and less funny than he thinks, but everyone's instinct is to root for him and try to find humor? That was what happened."

The XX Factor's Amanda Marcotte: "Watching Eastwood act out his fantasy of standing over the president and lecturing him like he was an errant schoolboy in need of correction brought forth all the unsavory aspects of modern conservatism Romney desperately wanted to spend last night minimizing. ... Despite the incoherent, bumbling aspects of [Eastwood's] speech, this sentiment—that we, not they, own this country—came across loud and clear. And with that, all of Romney's hard work putting together a list of speakers that screamed 'diversity' and 'milquetoast' collapsed, and all before the candidate himself had a chance to speak."

ANYTHING ELSE WE NEED TO KNOW FROM LAST NIGHT?: Oh, right, Clint Eastwood wasn't actually the one accepting the GOP's nomination. So how'd Romney do?

John Dickerson: "Romney made a promise, but the test of the speech is whether people believe it. Ann Romney talked about trust. Did he garner the trust people need to have to hand him the presidency? Mitt Romney’s election has always relied on a two-part formula. Voters needed to feel disappointment in the president and feel like Romney has a plan. Part 1 was a gift waiting for any Republican nominee who could make it to Tampa. Romney gave a perfectly fine speech, but there were no breakthroughs on that second task. The race feels like it is going to return to the hard-fought bitter contest it was before Romney entered the Tampa Bay Times Forum and without much momentum for the slog ahead."

Happy Friday and welcome to the Slatest PM, where your afternoon host learned the hard way that it's not so easy to pronounce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's last name under pressure. Mock him on Twitter directly at @JoshVoorhees, or in front of his coworkers at @slatest. You can also fill his inbox with links, mini-explainer requests and anything else that's on your mind at josh.voorhees@slate.com.

IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE: Bloomberg: "A tsunami alert was canceled [Friday] after a magnitude-7.6 earthquake hit off the coast of the Philippines, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The quake was revised down from 7.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A tsunami warning had been issued in Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and residents in coastal areas were advised to evacuate to ground at least [33 feet] higher than sea level, vulcanologist Jane Punongbayan told local radio dzMM."

FED EYES ACTION: NYT: "The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, delivered on Friday a detailed and forceful argument for new steps to stimulate the economy, reinforcing earlier indications that the Fed is on the verge of action. Mr. Bernanke said that the Fed’s policies over the last several years have provided significant benefits, but that a clear need remained for the Fed to do more and that, in his judgment, the likely benefits of such actions outweighed the potential costs."

YOSEMITE OUTBREAK: Reuters: "Two more visitors to Yosemite National Park have been diagnosed with a deadly rodent-borne virus, raising the total number of people infected in the unusual outbreak to six, California public health officials said Thursday. Two men died from the rare lung disease called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and four other people survived the rodent-borne illness. Most of the victims are believed to have contracted the virus while staying in tent-style cabins this summer in a popular camping area called Curry Village."

WE'RE STARTING TO THINK KARL ROVE DOESN'T LIKE AKIN: "We should sink Todd Akin," the GOP powerbroker joked at a breakfast briefing with GOP donors in Tampa on Thursday, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. "If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!”

ISAAC'S AFTERMATHAP: "Floodwaters from Isaac receded, power came on and businesses opened Friday ahead of the holiday weekend, the beginning of what is certain to be a slow recovery for Louisiana. ... Meanwhile, the leftovers from the storm push into the drought-stricken Midwest, knocking out power to thousands of people in Arkansas. At least six people were killed in the storm in Mississippi [and] Louisiana."

A CRY FOR HELP?: James Holmes' defense attorney revealed in court Thursday that her client attempted to reach out to a University of Colorado psychiatrist only minutes before the shooting.

IN SUBSTANTIALLY LESS SERIOUS NEWS: Did Paul Ryan really run a sub-three-hour marathon like he claims? The Internet demands proof.

WHAT YOUR HOST IS GOING TO READ AS SOON AS HE HITS SEND: David Grann's "The Chameleon: The many lives of Frédéric Bourdin" from The New Yorker's archives.

Enjoy the long weekend, and we'll see you back here on Tuesday. In the meantime, tell your friends to subscribe here.

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