Where in the world is John Kerry today? Do you think the White House situation room has an app that tracks his whereabouts? One day the secretary of state is brokering a deal with Russia over Syrian chemical weapons; the next day discussing sanctions against Iran with the Europeans, then on to Jerusalem to revive talks on the two-state solution. And he isn’t just racking up the miles — he’s accumulating controversy as well. Last Sunday, for example, the State Department and the White House had to clarify the secretary’s musings that boycotts against Israel might become more likely if peace talks fail.
So one year after he was sworn in, what to make of John Kerry? Well, he is certainly a contrast with his predecessor, who, while similarly peripatetic, was considerably more cautious in her approach than the free-lancing son of a former diplomat. During her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton checked in daily, if not hourly, with the White House, according to several people with whom I have spoken who know the differences between the current and most recent secretaries. Kerry is more prone to go it alone, asking forgiveness instead of permission.
But, according to my same contacts, the president himself appreciates Kerry’s drive and initiative. As others have noted, Kerry clearly loves his job, and he is determined to be an activist. After years of looking into the mirror and seeing a president, he now sees his chance to fulfill his heroic ambition on the world’s toughest stages. That marriage of ego and job makes some uneasy, but it may be a very fine match.