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01.24.13

John Kerry Plays It Cool in Senate Testimony: Watch Video

The would-be secretary of state has so far sailed through his confirmation hearings. From his poised reaction to a protester to a sly ‘Godfather’ joke, watch video.

1. Secretary Wise Guy

Kerry showed good sense and flattery skills from start, beginning his statement by saying, “I’ve never seen a more distinguished and better-looking group of officials in my life.” But he also warned that if anyone showed up with his long lost brother, “all bets are off.” It seems someone’s been watching too many Godfather movies.

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2. ‘Imperative’ We Get Our Fiscal House in Order

But it wasn’t all fun and games. Kerry also had some criticism for his soon-to-be former colleagues. “As we work to help other countries create order, the first priority will be that America at last puts its own fiscal house in order,” he said, calling it “imperative” and “urgent” to show the rest of the world that we can “get our business done in an effective and timely way.” He warned that we mustn’t replace our “credibility and leverage with gridlock and dysfunction.”

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3. On Iran: Policy Is Prevention

John McCain might have been caught picking his nose at this point, but Kerry just wanted to explain the threat posed by Iran, saying, “Our policy is not containment, it is prevention, and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.”

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4. Kerry Keeps His Cool Amid Protests

This bodes well for how he’ll handle unexpected situations. When a protester, apparently from Code Pink, interrupted the proceedings yelling about violence in the Middle East, Kerry said he respected the woman’s right to voice her concerns and called the interruption “a good exclamation point to my testimony.”  

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5. We’re Not Exactly Leaving Afghanistan in 2014

Kerry may have raised a few eyebrows when he said that the counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan would continue beyond 2014 and that training would also go on beyond that date, saying that “President Obama has been very clear” on the issue. But it’s OK, because he promised that the support and training would continue only in the goal of creating an Afghan-led reconciliation, “if it is possible,” he added.

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6. Kerry Gets a 'Yes' on Global Women’s Issues

Sen. Barbara Boxer asked if Kerry would retain an ambassador for global women’s issues, and if the office is effectively resourced. Kerry tried to answer a simple “yes.” But Boxer wasn’t finished and quickly asked at least four follow-up questions.

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7. Lucky the Patriots Lost

Kerry looked a bit concerned after Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin announced he had come up with two sets of questions, one more difficult than the other, depending on the outcome of last weekend’s playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens. “I’m taking it for the Red Sox, I’m taking it for the Patriots. If the standard here is which team you root for, I’m screwed,” Kerry joked.

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8. Rubio vs. Kerry

After Marco Rubio’s lengthy introduction, things got heated between the two senators over Libya. Rubio said we did “certain things” in the first days of the U.S. intervention in Libya and had they been extended, “that conflict would have ended a lot sooner” and a shorter conflict would have led to less instability. Kerry wasn’t so sure, answering, “Senator, it might have or it might not have.”

9. The Return of Ron Johnson

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is back! And it appears he was not satisfied with Hillary Clinton’s answers yesterday, especially her assertion that it’s less important to find out why the militants carried out the Benghazi attacks and more important to bring them to justice. But Kerry insisted that there is no “daylight” between him and Clinton on the issue. It was the start of a contentious back-and-forth.

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