John Kerry, commenting on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination battle, pulled no punches during his appearance in Austin on Sept. 27. Of the Republican senators who want him on the Supreme Court, Kerry said “The fix is in.”
Speaking at the opening at the Texas Tribune Festival, Kerry said “Washington is completely dysfunctional, and that’s a disgrace.” Instead of the amity that characterised Congress years ago, what is being said now “is utterly insulting to anyone of intelligence.”
He dates the change in Congress to 1994 and the Newt Gingerich Revolution, followed by the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus. All made sweeping promises but were unable to effect the change they promised. “Trump basically carried out a hostile takeover of the Republican Party because everyone was angry. What happened in 2016 is completely understandable.”
Kerry has recently been accused by Senator Cruz and Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, of holding inappropriate discussions with Iranian officials. Kerry shot back at this slanderous accusation. “What was profoundly inappropriate was lying and using the pulpit of the State Department to attack a former Secretary of State.” Kerry said all his discussions occurred before Trump pulled out the agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program. “Patriotism can come from many different places,” he explained. “It’s a sense of responsibility.”
Kerry warned against “demagogues that exploit the lowest common denominator” for political gain. To make it clear who he was talking about, he said President Trump “thinks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth are three different things!” This acerbic remark got a rousing response from an audience at Austin City Live, one of the downtown venues for the Tribune Festival, which has previously been held at the University. There has been talk of him making another Presidential bid, but Kerry quipped he is “too busy to run for president: I’m trying to negotiate a ceasefire between Jeff Sessions and the President!”
His new book, Every Day is Extra, was born out his combat years in Vietnam. He realised “we were being lied to” by our own country, but instead of joining the antiwar protest upon returning from military duty, he did something constructive and became involved in the first Earth Day. That was April 22, 1970. It spawned a movement that targeted the 12 worst Congressmen on environmental issues, seven of whom were defeated at the next election. This paved the way for environmental legislation to pass the Congress and become law in the early 70s.
Young people drove change in the 60s and 70s. Secretary Kerry said just such a movement today holds out the promise that “there is a way forward” from the political morass. “We can find common ground on anything in this country,” he said hopefully.
It must be done not just for the United States, but for the world: “We really are indispensable.”
Photos by Dr. Cliff Cunningham