John Kerry, taking baby steps at State


Secretary of State John Kerry faces challenges in hot spots around the world. Syria. Iran. North Korea. And . . . New Zealand?

Perhaps thinking that he’d start out with the easy stuff — the way one eases into a workout with a few shoulder rolls — the newly minted SecState’s first public statement addressed the crucial issue of congratulating the people of New Zealand, who are celebrating Waitangi Day, the anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi (or, as Kerry notes, “Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”)

The day before — his first at State — Kerry indicated that he planned to grapple with the thorny Middle East peace process during his tenure.

But first, a little warm-up.

“This is an opportunity to reflect both upon New Zealand’s unique culture and diverse heritage and to celebrate the promise of the future as new generations carry on your rich traditions,” Kerry said in his inaugural missive, hailing the diplomatic ties between the United States and our Kiwi cousins.

We would have awarded him bonus points if he had managed to make a “Lord of the Rings” reference.

And now, back to that Israeli-Palestinian thing . . .

March 1 exit for Favreau

Departure update on Jon Favreau , President Obama’s chief speechwriter, who’s been reported for some time to be leaving his post.

Our colleague Chris Cillizza confirmed a Los Angeles Times report Tuesday that Favreau will leave his job March 1, maybe to do some screenwriting, although he’ll stay in the D.C. area.

We wrote Dec. 4 that the White House buzz was that Favreau was heading out soon, probably after the inauguration. Then in January, we reported that his deputy, Cody Keenan , one of the original team of Obama speechwriters, was likely to succeed him, which is the case.

Keenan, the Times reported, is taking the lead in writing the State of the Union address that Obama is to deliver next week.

Favreau, Loop Fans will recall, has been with Obama since Senate days and is credited with penning some of Obama’s best stuff since then.

Even in the “no drama Obama” White House, Favreau became something of a celebrity in town, being named by People magazine as one of the world’s most beautiful people. Didn’t hurt that he also dated actress Rashida Jones , the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton.

While there was that shirtless beer pong incident in a Georgetown bar in 2010 and a long profile in GQ in June 2011, Favreau has seemed a bit more low-key of late.

Obama said Tuesday in a statement that Favreau “has become a friend and a collaborator on virtually every major speech I’ve given in the Senate, on the campaign trail and in the White House.”

Misbehaving at recess

The old line used by teenagers everywhere to justify their behavior — “but everybody’s doing it!” — might come in handy for President Obama on his much-criticized recess appointments, which were the subject of a recent court ruling.

Hundreds of recess appointments under Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and both George Bushes would have been unlawful under the court’s decision, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service.

Source : washingtonpost[dot]com

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