We bade farewell this week to Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, and said hello to Vladimir Putin, op-ed writer and (possible) peacemaker. Mayor Michael Bloomberg got a double-humbling, and House Speaker John Boehner learned an old lesson all over again. Jeb Bush played host to Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie refused to host Rand Paul, and the only real news on Capitol Hill was that Harry Reid is a reggae fan.
What adventures will next week bring? Here's a look at some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
One of the strangest fortnights in U.S. foreign policy comes to a close with President Obama hoping that Russia can bail him out of a tricky situation on Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin upped the ante by becoming a New York Times contributor, pushing American hot buttons in a way that brought members of Congress together, in anger. Negotiations over ridding the Assad regime of chemical weapons will proceed in fits and starts, and it could be weeks or months until we know whether they're bearing fruit. Key to all of this, of course, is the president, and what's going through his mind at this time of an international standoff he's been at the center of. On that front, we're in luck: ABC News' George Stephanopoulos has an exclusive interview with Obama airing Sunday on "This Week."
Sen. Tom Harkin's annual Steak Fry has long been a launching pad for presidential ambitions, including those of the current president. Sunday afternoon's event features two Democrats, one familiar face and one rising star: Vice President Joe Biden and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. It's Biden's first political trip to Iowa of the year, and 2016 buzz will, of course, be in the air. But there's other talk that will be intriguing to watch. The Steak Fry will bring Iowa Democrats in close proximity with the vice president, at a time of grassroots angst over the direction the administration is taking. Will antiwar protesters show up? Will Biden talk about Syria? Can he avoid talking about Hillary Clinton or what's next for them both?
Newtown families will be back in Washington for several days of lobbying and media events in an attempt to get gun control back on the national agenda. Much of the attention will center on a Tuesday Senate hearing examining the "stand your ground" laws that became famous after the killing of Trayvon Martin, and Martin's mother will be among those testifying. The broader challenge for the families of victims of gun violence is to renew interest in expanded background checks, after they suffered a bitter defeat in the Senate. That task is harder than ever in the wake of a recall election in Colorado, where two state senators lost their jobs over gun-control votes. It sent a chill felt far beyond the Rockies over the political potency of gun control, and might have marked the end of serious efforts to advance a gun bill in Congress this year.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be in Washington for a rare lobbying visit in the hopes that his policy stock rises like his fortunes have been of late. Zuckerberg will participate in a public interview sponsored by The Atlantic Wednesday. Just as important may be his closed-door meetings: Zuckerberg has time set aside to meet with House Speaker John Boehner and his three top deputies, and immigration overhaul will surely be a major topic of discussion. That's the issue that has been the subject of Zuckerberg's first major foray into national politics, and Boehner's House will need a few pokes to move. Prospects for House action this year appear dim, despite public commitments by House GOP leaders to bring immigration bills up for votes.
When might a confirmation hearing for ambassadors be interesting? Perhaps when one of the would-be ambassadors is named "Kennedy." It also helps when diplomacy and the Obama administration's actions on the international stage are under particular scrutiny. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold nomination hearings Thursday morning for ambassadorial nominees, including Caroline Kennedy, the president's choice for ambassador to Japan. There's no reason to think Kennedy's nomination will face serious opposition. But there's also no reason to think that a senator or two won't want to ask Kennedy for her views on diplomacy and the proper uses of U.S. military force.