Newly confirmed Secretary of State John F. Kerry struck a humble and jocular tone on arriving at the State Department Monday for his first full day in the post held by Hillary Rodham Clinton over the past four years.
Laughter and applause filled the lobby at Foggy Bottom, where Mr. Kerry appeared early in the day to announce that “the big question before the country and the world” is: “Can a man actually run the State Department?”
“I don’t know … As the saying goes, I have big heels to fill,” joked the former Massachusetts senator, whose appointment as America’s 67th secretary of state makes him the first man in the position since Colin Powell was at Foggy Bottom from 2001 through 2005.
Mr. Kerry spoke from the same spot in the State Department lobby where Mrs. Clinton offered departing remarks on Friday. As was the case for Mrs. Clinton, hundreds of department employees packed in to hear Mr. Kerry’s remarks.
As he starts his new job, he faces a widening slate of foreign policy challenges, from Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Washington’s shaky relations with Moscow, to the rise of China and Syria’s increasingly bloody civil war.
But Mr. Kerry, 69, who has spent the past 28 years in the Senate, appeared equally aware Monday that he also faces the daunting task of winning over the rank-and-file diplomats at the State Department, where outspoken affection for Mrs. Clinton remains on full display.
Critics say Mrs. Clinton’s legacy is marked by a lack of progress on a host of foreign policy issues and scarred, irreversibly, by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Such contentions have done little, however, to erode the passion of Mrs. Clinton’s fans. And they are many at Foggy Bottom, where the hallways remain adorned by dozens of photographs showing the former secretary in action at diplomatic events in far-flung corners of the world.
But the initial reception has been warm for Mr. Kerry, who joked Monday that if he is found wandering the State Department during the days ahead, it won’t be because he has meetings but “because I’m lost and I need directions.”
After more laughter, Mr. Kerry sought to strike a brotherly chord with the crowd — suddenly producing an old diplomatic passport that he had been issued as a child when his father, Richard J. Kerry had served as a State Department officer in Berlin.
“I was rummaging through some old stuff, and I found the first evidence of my connection to this great diplomatic enterprise,” the new secretary of state said. “If you open it up, there’s a picture of a little 11-year-old John Kerry.”
He recalled time he spent bicycling around Berlin in the early 1950s when his father was posted in the city. “One day, my sense of 12-year-old adventure, I think it was then, I used this very passport to pass through into the east sector, the Russian sector, and I bicycled around,” he said.
“I really did notice the starkness, the desolation,” he added somberly, before turning back to a humorous tone
The performance appeared to have its desired effect.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Guy Taylor rejoined The Washington Times in 2011 as the State Department correspondent.
As a freelance journalist, Taylor’s work was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Fund For Investigative Journalism, and his stories appeared in a variety publications, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Salon, Reason, Prospect Magazine of London, the Daily Star of Beirut, the ...
By Elaine Donnelly
Extending sexual misconduct to combat units
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Video reviews of today's hottest trends in Minecraft (servers and mods) along with a look at the latest video games with your host MCairsoft14 (alias Jerad Zad).
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Contributions to the Communities Sports desk from readers.
Straight talk on climate science, energy economics, and public policy.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention