Keeping up with John Kerry-speak


New Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by State Department staff during a ceremony welcoming him as the 68th secretary of state, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, at the State Department in Washington. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
February 4, 2013

There are signs that Secretary of State John Kerry’s presence may mean somewhat longer meetings for President Obama’s Cabinet and his national security team.

Kerry’s emotional and long farewell address to the Senate on Wednesday came in at around 7,700 words. In contrast, Sen. Daniel Webster’s famous 1830 speech against state nullification of federal laws — widely seen as the greatest ever delivered in the Senate, was about 4,500 words.

Kerry will be joined in many meetings by a former Senate colleague, Vice President Biden, who’s never been accused of shying away from peroration every now and again.

Indeed, Biden is the holder of the world indoor bloviation record for his spectacular 1,100-word question during Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1993. It went on so long it seemed Ginsburg wasn’t sure what the question was.

So they might want to schedule an intermission. Maybe two.

Dean Rusk rarely tweeted

But it seems Kerry can limit himself to 140 characters when he wants. Expect him to be far more active on Twitter than his predecessor.

On Kerry’s first day on the job, the State Department (@StateDept) tweeted that any messages directly from the big boss would be labeled with his initials — JK.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton barely dipped a toe into the social-media pool (in fact, the Loop sponsored a contest last year to help her craft her first tweet). As a senator, Kerry clearly enjoyed it, with recent tweets from @JohnKerry covering everything from the death of the owner of a Boston cannoli shop, to the Pats’ Super Bowl chances, to a birthday shout-out to then-colleague Sen. Max Baucus (to whom he said, “We’re still kids in this place.”)

But now that Kerry’s in the high-stakes world of international diplomacy, he might be in danger of sending mixed messages in a medium where meaning is easily lost. His sign-off, “JK,” for instance, is also online shorthand for “just kidding.”

Which could create some confusing diplomatic signals, IMO.

Power parenting

We’re hearing that Samantha Power , a longtime (since 2005) Obama foreign policy adviser and still likely ambassador to the United Nations — should there be an opening — is leaving the administration in the next few weeks to rest up and “spend more time with her family.”

(That may be the first time we’ve ever written that phrase where it actually happens to be true. She’s got two little kids at home; one is 3, the other 8 months.)

Power, now senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights at the National Security Council and a former war correspondent, is a professor, a human rights expert and the author of a widely acclaimed book — “A Problem From Hell,” which accused the United States of ignoring Balkan genocide.

She had been the No. 1 pick for the U.N. slot if Susan Rice had become secretary of state.

That didn’t happen, of course. But with deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough moving down the hall to be White House chief of staff, it’s hard to figure anyone but Rice becoming national security adviser if, as expected, that slot opens up with incumbent Tom Donilon leaving perhaps later on this year.

So maybe if the U.N. job opens up at some point, Power may well come back off the bench. (Or she could get an undersecretaryship at State.)

On the other hand, the current deputy secretary of state, Bill Burns, among others, might be eyeing the U.N. job.

On the other other hand, hard to see Kerry letting the uber-competent Burns leave Foggy Bottom.

It takes some entries

The entries are rolling in for the Loop’s contest to name the memoir Hillary Clinton plans to pen during her quasi-retirement.

It’s apparent that some of you love the former secretary of state, and some love to hate her. Either way, there are plenty of promising titles in the mix.

We’ve gotten lots of submissions playing on a previous Clinton tome, “It Takes a [fill in the blank],” and there are several that refer to her globe-trotting travel. Good stuff.

But we’d still love more! And the deadline (the end of the day Friday, Feb. 8) is nearing. So put on the thinking cap (or a favorite hair accessory — wait, here’s an idea: “It Takes a Scrunchie”) and come up with a title.

To recap, here are the rules: You may submit no more than two entries. Send them via e-mail to intheloop@washpost.com, and be sure to provide your name, profession, mailing address and T-shirt size (M, L or XL), in case you’re a winner.

(Congressional and administration types may enter “on background.”)

You must include a phone number to be eligible.

A panel of judges will pick five favorites and award each winner a coveted Loop T-shirt.

Shock! The monkey!

The Iranians claimed on Jan. 28 that they had successfully launched a monkey into space — setting off alarm bells among national security experts as well as animal rights organizations.

The national security folks were worried because such a launch would indicate significant progress toward that country’s long-range missile capabilities.

Pet lovers needed only to take one look at pictures provided by the Iranians of the terrified monkey and get outraged.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at the time that she didn’t have “any way to confirm this [launch] one way or the other with regard to the primate,” which she called “the poor little monkey.”

The mystery deepened Monday when, Nuland told reporters, the monkey Iran showed was missing the wart it had before the alleged flight.

(Well, maybe space travel does strange things?) So it appears that either the monkey never went up or it never came back or they used a different monkey.

The Iranians, who insisted that the monkey went up and returned safely, blamed Iranian media for all this — sure, blame the press — because they used a photo of a backup monkey instead of the actual spacefaring simian.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also said Monday that he’d consider being Iran’s first man in space, which Nuland described as “an interesting choice,” the Associated Press reported.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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