Secretary of State John Kerry quipped at a dinner with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that founding father Benjamin Franklin wouldn’t get through a GOP-controlled Congress.
Kerry was hosting the Tuesday evening event in the State Department dining room named after the onetime minister to France and Sweden.
“We are really delighted to welcome everybody here to the Ben Franklin Room, which you all know well — most of you know very, very well — named after the gentleman in the portrait down there at the end, Ben Franklin, who was allegedly our first diplomat. And everybody here knows, knowing his life, that he could never be confirmed by the Senate today,” Kerry said.
“He had a lot of wise sayings, and one of them was everybody should go to bed early. But knowing how much he ignored that advice himself, we don’t expect anybody to do that tonight. We want to have a good time,” he added.
Attendees at the dinner included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and David Petraeus.
And, being a Kerry introduction, he worked in a personal anecdote.
“At our reception earlier, you all had a chance to hear a Kennedy Center performance from two years ago by the Afghan National Institute of Music. And on my very first day as secretary of State, purely by serendipity, I had the privilege of speaking to members of that orchestra who, with the help from the United States and other donors, are preserving their country’s rich musical heritage,” he said. “As a onetime aspiring guitarist in a high school rock band, frankly, I am in awe of those who actually know how to make good sounds come out of their instruments.”
Ghani asked Petraeus, who was brought down by a sex scandal with his biographer, “Are you getting any more sleep than you got in Kabul?”
“Vastly more,” the onetime commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan replied.
“No, because General Petraeus slept in a very small room and hardly slept,” Ghani said. “And it was an example that is shared by General Campbell and all the distinguished generals.”