John Kerry gave a classy farewell speech to the Senate yesterday, which ended a week when he basked in the admiration of that institution and was confirmed as the next secretary of state with only three nays.

His testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee, which he headed for four years, was overshadowed by outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony the previous day but was nonetheless a tour de force. His unscripted comments after a protester interrupted the hearing were particularly powerful as they drew the circle of his time in Washington back to its roots in the Vietnam protest movement.

Of course, one could discount the senatorial love-fest that Mr. Kerry enjoyed. The rules of that club have been tattered by increasingly uncivil behavior, but it still does funerals and retirements very well. But Kerry isn't fading away; in fact, his career may be reaching its finest hour. As Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) put it so well, “I do not know of anybody who has lived a life that has been more oriented toward ultimately being secretary of state than John Kerry."

Kerry labored in the shadow of the greatest senators of his generation, Ted Kennedy, and with the gritty rub of unfulfilled expectations and ambitions. It's nice to see him get some due. There are second acts in politics, particularly when your first one wasn't so bad.