The Washington Post

John Kerry


Secretary of State John Kerry plays American in Paris as he shakes hands with French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius. (Jacquelyn Martin/AFP/Getty Images)

Per Gearan: During his failed 2004 presidential run, Kerry might have been ridiculed as a French-speaking, windsurfing, East Coast aristocrat, but he was in his element in Paris on Wednesday. He spoke in effortless French, with a good accent to boot, to open a news conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Gearan reports.

“We just finished one of those wonderful French lunches that have been drawing Americans to Paris for centuries,” Kerry said en francaise. He praised France as America’s oldest ally, among other niceties. Then, with a wry smile, he said it was time to switch to English, “because otherwise I would not be allowed to return back home.”

A day earlier, Kerry tried out his German in Berlin. Pretty good, was the verdict of an unscientific sampling of German reporters. On Thursday, Kerry gets a chance to show off his Italian in Rome.

Of course, when he arrives in the Eternal City, he can always rely on his old Yale roommate, U.S. Ambassador David Thorne, for translating, if he needs it.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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