Throughout the testimony, there also were hints as to how big a behind-the-scenes role Kerry has played in foreign policy in recent years. Asides and anecdotes recounted at the hearing told of a screaming match Kerry had with former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, how Kerry had to coax Afghan President Hamid Karzai to accept election results, and how he was the first American politician to meet with then-candidate Mohammed Morsi, who went on to become Egypts first democratically elected president.
Republicans made it clear to Kerry that hed be dealing with the legacy of the State Departments response to the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. posts in Benghazi, telling him they still had questions on what the administration knew and when. Senators from both parties sought his assurance that hed continue implementing dozens of recommendations made by an independent investigating panel that found systemic problems in State Department bureaucracy that contributed to the chaotic aftermath of the attacks.
We still havent gotten the answers about what happened in Benghazi, McCain told Kerry.
The questions, while mostly thorough and serious, were hardly confrontational, underscoring how different the confirmation wouldve been had President Barack Obama been able to field his first choice, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. She withdrew from consideration amid mounting Republican opposition to her candidacy.
Some critics thought her abrasive personality was ill-suited for the diplomatic post, while others fumed over what they considered Rices attempts to mislead the public with talk show appearances in which she said the Benghazi attacks were an offshoot of protests instead of what others in the administration already knew to be the pre-planned work of militants.
By contrast, even Republican senators on the committee greeted Kerry warmly, while Democrats practically fawned. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., concluded her questioning by saying she couldnt wait for the privilege of casting an aye vote to confirm Kerry.
Sen. Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who presided over the hearing, slipped up and prematurely called Kerry Mr. Secretary, to which Kerry quipped that the confirmation was even quicker than expected.
Im clairvoyant, Menendez replied with a smile.
Newslook via MCT