New Secretary of State John Kerry greeted employees at Foggy Bottom on his first day of work this morning by thanking them for his new liberation.
“Thank God I had a couple of photo IDs so I could get in,” Kerry said. “I have to tell you, I liked my cubicle over there in transition corner. But I cannot tell you how great it feels to, sort of, be liberated to know that I actually get to explore the whole building now. So I’ve been freed. I’m the first person you guys freed today. This is pretty good.”
Kerry actually got to work over the weekend, making phone calls to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres in an effort to restart the peace process.
Kerry warned State Department employees that if he’s aimlessly wandering around the building and wanders into their offices, “it’s not because I’m there for a meeting. It’s because I’m lost and I need directions.”
He said the greatest question facing the diplomatic arm after the past eight years is “can a man actually run the State Department?”
“I have big heels to fill,” he quipped.
“I think it is beyond fair to say that this president’s vision and what he has implemented through your efforts over the course of the last years without any question has restored America’s reputation and place in the world,” Kerry continued. “…I also understand how critical it is that you have someone there advocating for you. The dangers could not be more clear. We’re reminded by the stars and names on the wall, and we are particularly reminded by Chris Stevens and Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith. And I know everybody here still mourns that loss.”
“So I pledge to you this: I will not let their patriotism and their bravery be obscured by politics, number one,” he said to applause from the assembled staffers. “And I guarantee you that beginning this morning when I report for duty upstairs, everything I do will be focused on the security and safety of our people. There are tough decisions to make, but I guarantee you I’ll do everything I can to live up to the high standards that Secretary Clinton and her team put in place.”
Kerry came prepared for the first day of school with a show-and-tell item: his first diplomatic passport with a photo of an 11-year-old John Kerry inside. He then meandered into stories of travels with his diplomat father, including wandering into the Russian sector of Berlin.
“In fact, I was thinking about it the other day. If the tabloids today knew I had done that, I can see the headlines that say, ‘Kerry’s Early Communist Connections,’” he said. “But, that’s the world we live in, folks.”
“But that was a great adventure. And I will tell you, 57 years later, today, this is another great adventure.”
The State Dept. tweeted this morning that Kerry will start tweeting from the account by signing his initials “JK” to his personal tweets. In tweet shorthand, JK more commonly means “just kidding.”