October 26, 2009
John Kerry to the Rescue
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's new chairman is John Kerry. He replaced Joe Biden when the latter was installed as Vice President. Kerry was in Afghanistan when the administration impressed him into service to read the riot act to that country's embattled President, Hamid Karzai. It seems that Karzai was not too keen on submitting to a runoff election, even when it appeared that a huge percentage of his votes in the recent contest were fraudulently cast. Afghanistan's hurry-up runoff is now slated for November 8th. One wonders what persuasions an administration that has very theatrically renounced "torture" must have applied to the wily Afghan leader. Did they, perhaps, tell Karzai he would have to endure a filibuster by Sen. Kerry if he did not submit?
Kerry's presence on-scene to make this little bit of history is most curious. Don't we already have Richard Holbrooke as our Afghanistan jack-of-all-trades? Holbrooke is famous for not wanting anyone else to step on his lines, or get between him and the news cameras.
Then, there's Hillary. There's always Hillary. Isn't she supposed to be our Secretary of State? When Kerry was asked by a reporter in Kabul if he was not upstaging Madame Secretary, if he had not become our de facto Secretary of State, John Kerry responded with all the crisp elocution that made his so famous during his presidential campaign of 2004:
"I don't want--you know, I don't even--I don't think that's appropriate, de facto, whatever, whatever."
We have to wonder what Hillary Clinton must be making of being upstaged by Kerry who was in the act of upstaging Holbrooke. Joe Biden has yet to be dispatched to Kabul. They may be holding him in reserve in case Karzai actually manages to lose the runoff election. (Since Karzai broke the bank buying the last election, this is always a possibility.) The Vice President was recently sent to Eastern Europe to smooth feathers ruffled by the Obama administration's abandonment of on-site missile defense for Poland and the Czech Republic.
Secretary of State Clinton has had to endure the humiliation of having liberal blogger Tina Brown write that President Obama has placed her in "a foreign policy burqa," that he has made her his "Saudi wife." But here, in one place where she could actually don a burqa and be considered chic, Mrs. Clinton was forced to play an off-stage role while John Kerry's starred. Press reports had Mrs. Clinton "talking multiple times" to Kerry over the weekend.
It's doubtful she called the Massachusetts senator at 3 am. That was the time, you'll recall, that her famous TV ad said the really important decisions have to be made in the White House. That ad didn't win her the nomination. John Kerry's endorsement of her opponent, Barack Obama, helped to undermine her argument that the young Illinoisan was not ready to take that call.
Kerry's backing of Obama must have made her "multiple phone calls" to him over the weekend all the more galling. You have to ask yourself: Is this the first time Kerry and Hillary have spoken since the campaign?
Meanwhile, Sen. Kerry is said to be relishing his new role as foreign policy deep thinker and heavy hitter. He reportedly wants to model his committee's hearings on those famously chaired by Arkansas Democrat J. William Fulbright.
But, wait, weren't those Senate hearings a great embarrassment to Fulbright's fellow Democrat, President Lyndon B. Johnson? What, exactly, must be President Obama's comfort level as he deliberates a new Afghanistan policy with his Foreign Relations Committee chairman considering as a role model, the greatest dissenter since Chairman Henry Cabot Lodge battled President Woodrow Wilson?
President Obama need not be too concerned. John Kerry is not only well-known for verbal gaffes like "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Kerry made his career as an outspoken advocate for the Nuclear Freeze of the 1980s. We now know that the Freeze movement was largely financed by the Kremlin. But even back then, American advocates of the Nuclear Freeze had the satisfaction of knowing they wanted the U.S. to back down in the face of Soviet threats while Britain's Margaret Thatcher, West Germany's Helmut Kohl, and even France's Francois Mitterrand wanted us to stand firm.
With a record of being wrong on virtually every issue involving American interests and national security, there is only one question left about the gaunt Massachusetts senator: How has John Kerry managed to avoid winning a Nobel Peace Prize?
Ken Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. He is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.