If you've got five hours to spare, you might want to head on over to C-SPAN's video library and check out video from Tuesday of the new SFRC Chairman holding Sen. Clinton's confirmation hearing. If not, here's a highlight where Sen. Kerry talks about the challenges of our relations with Afghanistan, gives Sen. Clinton some very wise counsel on how we should move forward, and recommends some reading, including The Forever War, which is on my list. What I took from this exchange, in addition to the Senator's description of the Afghanistan situation, was his deep understanding and reasonable approach to our foreign relations and Sen. Clinton's eagerness to work with the committee members to restore our nation's standing in the world.
If you don't have five hours, Sen. Kerry gave a quick summary of the hearing on the MSNBC morning shows yesterday and commented on several other topics, including the Geithner Treasury nomination, the stimulus package and what should go into it, and his feelings on being Chair of the SFRC. Here he is with Matt Lauer on Today.
On Scarborough, Mika jabbed JK with an allusion to Hillary's "Mr. President" slip from the hearing. It was a clever exchange, both in the original and in Mika's recreation. Some really good advice at the end, too.
If you plan to stay in and avoid the deep freeze covering most of the nation, I recommend watching the full hearing. You might also want to catch Hillary and Joe Biden's farewell to the Senate on C-SPAN 2 as they move on to their new roles and the Senate says good-bye to their colleagues. I expect there will be plenty of warm moments on the floor today.
Shuster got some of it right, but I don't imagine it's a 'rough week' when you get to hold your first hearing as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. There were a few good moments in MSNBC's 90 seconds of JK appreciation last night, although if you blinked you probably missed them. He did a nice job with the 1971 video, I'll give him that. But I think Mr. Shuster's 'poor John' intro and graphics and his parting shot at Sen. Clinton turned what could have been a pretty decent story into something less than that, despite few solid remarks and some historic video. He might have added that Sen. Kerry is already making his mark as SFRC leader with his recent statements on the situation in Gaza and his position on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Perhaps I should hold my judgment, it was just the first day. I'll bet MSNBC is saving discussion of the critical role of the SFRC Chair for later in the week.
"John Kerry is one of the best-informed people on foreign policy in Washington," said Senator Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who would have been in line for the chairmanship had Mr. Kerry joined the cabinet. "I think this is an opportunity he has waited for for a long time. He has credibility not only within the Senate but among the American people as a very serious player."
Maybe we'll get to hear about Iran-Contra tomorrow before Shuster takes another swipe at Mrs. Clinton. Or maybe the folks at MSNBC will come to realize that chairing a powerful Senate committee is really not the makings of a very bad week after all, and that both Sen. Kerry and Sen. Clinton are pretty OK with how things turned out. Another quote from the same NYT piece seems to indicate the Senator's not too broken up about it.
"This is a great job," Mr. Kerry, who turned 65 last month, said in an interview. "This is an opportunity to affect policies I have cared about for a long time. I am sitting in a terrific seat. I am independent, call my shots. There are a lot of virtues, believe me."
At least the '71 hearing clip gave me a good excuse to take another look at a really great flick. I think I'll watch it wearing my I *heart* Kerry t-shirt.
Here's the trailer. You can buy the DVD for the rest, it's a fabulous film.
Well, we're ready on day one of John Kerry Appreciation Week with the video we promised of the Senator's swearing-in reception. I think this is the only video of the event, so we're happy to bring you an exclusive, though a bit shaky, look at the celebration.
One of the really nice things about being a hard-core supporter of a really great Senator is that you get to wrangle invites to some interesting events. Of course, there's a lot of hard work in between, like making tons of campaign phone calls, studying and promoting legislation, taking and editing a gazillion pictures and spending countless hours at the keyboard, but the payoff is that you get to help keep a great public servant in office and hang out in cool places like the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing room once in a while.
You also get to meet lots of fascinating folks, some who make the laws of this country and who you can see pretty regularly on C-SPAN, and others, like us, who you will typically find knocking on doors during a campaign with 'volunteer' badges hung around our necks. The whole thing is amazingly democratic, if a little bit surreal. More than anything, it's important work and it can be a whole lot of fun.
So, as promised, here's a bit of video from last Tuesday's reception taken by one of the KV crew, and although much of it was shot from between the backs of peoples' heads and it's a little fuzzy, it gives a really great sense of the celebration. We edited a bit, and saved some of the best stuff for ourselves, but we hope this still conveys the tremendous feeling of history and of hope that everyone in attendance felt at the swearing-in of Senator Kerry to a fifth term in the United States Senate.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this. MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has decided to devote a week to the appreciation of John Kerry. Sounds like a fine idea to me and long overdue, but I didn't know Shuster and Gregory were such big JK supporters. The hearts and sappy music are a bit over the top -- that's typically the stuff of WLJK, a site where hearts, 'squee' and critiquing the Senator's neckties are the whole point, but I think a cable network would do well to lose the smarm.
I'm hoping MSNBC will tone down the fan club graphics and do some stories on the real reasons there should be a John Kerry Appreciation Week -- things like his lifetime of service to our country, the investigations into BCCI and Iran Contra, his work on Vietnam normalization, on the environment, on small business and veterans' issues and his other legislative work in the Senate. Or perhaps they'll focus on everything he's done and all the money he's raised to elect Democrats to office since 2004. They might even discuss how we were robbed of a President Kerry by the right wing's use of fear-mongering, voter disenfranchisement and the now-obvious lies and distortions of the Bush camp and their henchmen. Or maybe they'll just concentrate on the fact that the Senator will likely have more influence in his role as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee than he would in Obama's cabinet.
Or they may have other plans. It's not that I distrust the media, but I have to admit to being a little suspicious of their motives. I suppose we'll know on Monday if their hearts are in the right place or if they need to visit the graphics department to see if they can spare a couple.
We posted a few photos from Sen. Kerry's swearing-in reception the other day, and we promised you video, which we will put up soon. For now, we thought we'd back up to November and give you another look at election night 2010 in Boston, where the Senator expressed his appreciation for all of us -- the supporters who worked so hard these past years to elect our great blue Congress, our fantastic President-elect and our favorite Senator.
First and foremost, congratulations to the Senator on his election to a fifth term in the United States Senate and his appointment as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I know a lot of us have felt a mix of joy and sadness in the past months of speculation over Secretary of State vs. SFRC Chair, but I really do think this is where Sen. Kerry will have the greatest impact on our foreign relations, and we should all feel a lot better knowing he'll be a powerful force in determining the future of our country. He heads back overseas this week, traveling with VP-elect Biden to southwest Asia. No word yet on details of the trip, but it's interesting that he's headed back so soon.
If you missed the swearing in (and if you happened to be in the new Capitol Visitors' Center, you probably did), C-SPAN has video. For $621 million, you'd think they could put a couple TVs in the new center (which is otherwise fantastic) and get the cable company in, but the best we could manage was to watch it on the 19" set in the old gift shop, which was actually sort of fun, as the woman working there knew some 'inside baseball' stuff and was happy to share. I was also able to pick up a 111th Congress mouse pad, so it all worked out.
After the swearing-in, we made our way to the Senator's reception in the Senate Foreign Relations hearing room. The Senator and his family and friends were joined by a number of Senators, and we were able to snap a few pictures of those who stopped by. I didn't catch all of them, Bernie moves really fast and I just missed Dick Lugar as he was leaving, but it was fascinating to be there to celebrate the Senator's fifth term in the room where he'll lead the SFRC in the 111th Congress.
We have a bit of video of Sen. Kerry, Sen. Kennedy and Max Cleland, which we hope to have ready in the next day or so. Although I didn't get a chance to talk to the Senator, I chatted a bit with Alexandra about her book and with Teresa, who was gracious as always and looked fabulous. So, despite missing the chance to get an exclusive on JK's plans for this session, we'll have some great stuff on video for you in a bit.
The Senator, on an overseas trip that took him to Poznan, Poland for the climate talks, Georgia, India and Pakistan, is visiting Afghanistan today, where he is set to meet with Hamid Karzai and to visit US troops.
So, where's the coverage of all this in the US mainstream media?
Don't get me wrong, I think Joe Biden's new puppy is cute as heck, and I'm just as interested as anyone in Kennedy-watch, what the blogs are saying about Caroline's qualifications, what Hillary might be thinking about the possible appointment of Caroline, and what Hillary's 'people' are saying on the subject of what Hillary might be thinking about Caroline. But perhaps relations between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai attacks is just a bit more relevant than yet another pundit's opinion of who thinks what about which potential Senate appointments. It's not like they're going to cover them after they're sworn in anyway.
It just think it would be interesting to see coverage of one of our elected leaders visiting oversees who's not having footwear flung at him.
On Senator Kerry's 65th birthday, we're wondering how best to recognize his incredible contribution to our country, and thank him for all he's done and continues to do for us. It's impossible to pick one thing, there are so many that stand out -- from his service in Vietnam, to his activism when he returned home, to his many years of work on environmental issues, to his fight against global terrorism and corruption with the investigations into BCCI and Iran-Contra. There's his advocacy for everything from high speed rail to polar bears to veterans issues to the needs of small business owners -- his global causes and his unwavering support for his beloved state of Massachusetts.
Those are a few that come immediately to mind, but there are so many other issues and so many other ways the Senator has fought to make our lives better. He spoke to Physicians for Human Rights about one of those things on Monday.
The Senator should be on his way to the climate talks in Poznan, Poland if he doesn't have to wait for the Senate vote on the auto makers' rescue bill. From there, he's expected to visit several other countries, including Afghanistan, Georgia, Russia, Pakistan, Kuwait and India. So, we're not sure if he'll be celebrating the big 6-5 on the floor of the Senate in DC or on a plane to Poznan, but wherever he is, our gift is a big 'Thank You' and best wishes for a very Happy Birthday.
I don't think a person can ever get enough of those.
"After eight years of obstruction and delay and denial, the US is going to rejoin the world community in tackling this global challenge."
"America is back, we are back in a position of participation, of respecting views and having real discussions and trying to find the best framework for all of us."
Senator Kerry has been busy these last few days with press calls (audio) and town hall meetings, where he's discussed his upcoming trip to Poznan, Poland for the climate conference that will set the stage for next year's UN Framework Convention in Copenhagen. At a town hall meeting in Cambridge on Monday, the Senator talked about the impact of climate change and the urgency of acting now, and how, as chairman, Sen. Kerry will make climate change a top priority issue for the SFRC.
Last year, the Senator was back from the climate talks in Bali just in time to celebrate his birthday, but it looks like he'll be on the road this year when he 'hits the speed limit'. So I guess we'll all just have to wish him a Happy 65th long distance.
It took a while. I realize that a couple weeks ago I thought the world would come to an end if Sen. Kerry wasn't President Obama's SoS. I was wrong for a lot of reasons, but here's the big one. In an Obama administration, as the President-Elect has made very clear, he's The Big Cheese. Obama will be the one who sets the policy for his cabinet to help implement, and I expect they'll do us proud. As Sen. Kerry noted in a statement yesterday, Obama's national security staff is top notch, and we should expect a lot from them as they help our new President begin to revitalize our global standing and restore our place on the world stage.
“President-Elect Obama has chosen a terrific national security team to protect our security and help restore America’s rightful place in the world. General Jones and Governor Napolitano are bright, strategic thinkers dedicated to the security of the nation. Eric Holder will lend integrity and experience to the Justice Department. Secretary Gates brings not just institutional knowledge but a keen understanding of the global challenge we face, Susan Rice is a sharp, trusted foreign policy mind who will bring an incredible ability and energy to the United Nations, and as Secretary of State, my friend and colleague Hillary Clinton will bring her years of experience and her remarkable intellect to the effort to restore our alliances and advance the President’s agenda in the world. As the incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I look forward to working with my distinguished colleague Sen. Richard Lugar to ensure a swift and fair confirmation process and working closely with the new Administration.”
A lot of attention has been paid by the media to Obama's picks, but they've left out a critical piece of the puzzle, that with a strong Democratic majority in the Senate and a President who understands the separation of powers between the three co-equal branches of our government, the role of the Senate has regained the autonomy that has been diminished in the last eight years of Bush's failed attempt at 'unitary executive' and a Congress weakened by obstructionist Republicans.
In the SFRC, Sen. Kerry will be running the show. He'll set the agenda, and he'll be responsible for the success or failure of our foreign relations as relates to the role of the Senate. And if there's any question as to what that entails, our new Constitutional law professor Prez can probably help point that out. So, for all the hoopla over cabinet picks, after a bit of forced reflection, I'm thinking Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is a pretty awesome job.
One of the first things Sen. Kerry will address as Chairman is Global Climate Change, starting with a trip to Poznan, Poland for the climate talks before heading to the Republic of Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Afghanistan in preparation for his new role in the Senate. He alluded to the trip in a conference call with the press the other day, and at the Energy Empowerment Revolution Rally at Boston's Faneuil Hall.
So, while silly WaPo bloggers attempt to minimize the role of the Chairman of the SFRC and misstate that of SoS, some of us now understand where the real power lies, and what responsibilities come under the purview of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
JURISDICTION OF THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
(Excerpted from Rules of the Committee)
Rule 1 — Jurisdiction
(a) Substantive. — In accordance with Senate Rule XXV.1(j)(1), the jurisdiction of the Committee shall extend to all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating to the following subjects:
1. Acquisition of land and buildings for embassies and legations in foreign countries.
2. Boundaries of the United States.
3. Diplomatic service.
4. Foreign economic, military, technical, and humanitarian assistance.
5. Foreign loans.
6. International activities of the American National Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
7. International aspects of nuclear energy, including nuclear transfer policy.
8. International conferences and congresses.
9. International law as it relates to foreign policy.
10. International Monetary Fund and other international organizations established primarily for international monetary purposes (except that, at the request of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, any proposed legislation relating to such subjects reported by the Committee on Foreign Relations shall be referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs).
11. Intervention abroad and declarations of war.
12. Measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard American business interests abroad.
13. National security and international aspects of trusteeships of the United States.
14. Ocean and international environmental and scientific affairs as they relate to foreign policy.
15. Protection of United States citizens abroad and expatriation.
16. Relations of the United States with foreign nations generally.
17. Treaties and executive agreements, except reciprocal trade agreements.
18. United Nations and its affiliated organizations.
19. World Bank group, the regional development banks, and other international organizations established primarily for development assistance purposes.
The Committee is also mandated by Senate Rule XXV.1(j)(2) to study and review, on a comprehensive basis, matters relating to the national security policy, foreign policy, and international economic policy as it relates to foreign policy of the United States, and matters relating to food, hunger, and nutrition in foreign countries, and report thereon from time to time.
(b) Oversight. — The Committee also has a responsibility under Senate Rule XXVI.8, which provides that “. . . each standing Committee . . . shall review and study, on a continuing basis, the application, administration, and execution of those laws or parts of laws, the subject matter of which is within the jurisdiction of the Committee.”
(c) “Advice and Consent” Clauses. — The Committee has a special responsibility to assist the Senate in its constitutional function of providing ``advice and consent'' to all treaties entered into by the United States and all nominations to the principal executive branch positions in the field of foreign policy and diplomacy.
I have to say, I'm pretty pumped about this whole JK as Chairman gig. So, set your DVRs to C-SPAN2, I do believe this is going to get interesting.
I have to imagine this is the most difficult part of the job, and one of the most important -- comforting the family of a fallen soldier.
Senator Kerry attended the funeral of 21-year-old army Specialist Corey Shea on Monday. The young soldier died in Iraq earlier this month, and was memorialized this week in his home town of Mansfield, Mass.
Honoring those who have given their lives for their country is something the Senator has done may times in these past few years, and I suppose as he begins his new role as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the memory of the lives of the men and women who have served so well will have an impact on the future of our country.
So, thank you, Corey Shea, for what you've given, and for what you still have to offer.