Early onset silly season

Hot time, summer in the city.  And another silly season begins.  This one stars a wealthy Secretary of State, a yacht, and an unfolding crisis in Egypt.  Cue the feigned outrage.

To summarize: after marathon diplomacy in the Middle East, diplomacy praised by both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Secretary of State touches down in DC in the early morning hours and flies home.


Just so happens that John Kerry is fortunate enough to own a home in Nantucket.  Lucky guy.  He also owns a yacht.  Nice.

As it turns out, Egypt is in the midst of a major coup, an international incident a serious proportion.  Pictures emerge during the crisis of the Secretary at his Nantucket home then on his yacht, after his spokesperson at first claimed he wasn’t on his yacht. Cue the canned outrage but crank it higher.  So now the issue is, he was against being on his yacht before he was for it!  All the while Egypt burns!

Heat can make folks delirious so I’m guessing that is the reason behind this very silly story and fake outrage.

Today’s Herald kicks it all up a notch with Kerry now being criticized for a not having the midas touch, with all that he embarks upon “not turning out well.” 

Count myself among those disappointed that after five months, Kerry has been unable to take the ancient hostilities in the Middle East and turn the whole region into a giant Kumbaya moment.  I had hoped that the leaders of Israel and Palestine would be singing Age of Aquarius by now and so I guess by that measure, John Kerry has lost all credibility as a diplomat.

Or perhaps we might reflect on the last two paragraphs of the Globe’s own yacht story:

The opposing sides have suggested that Kerry has played an indispensable role in orchestrating a potential breakthrough. After a three-day sprint of meetings in the region last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas credited Kerry with “useful and constructive suggestions” and said Palestinians are optimistic because Kerry has shown he is “serious and determined to reach a solution.”

Netanyahu, speaking at a July 4 reception at the US ambassador’s home, credited Kerry “for his tireless efforts to advance peace. When I say tireless, I mean just that. That man works until 3 o’clock in the morning. We all do. But then he goes on to a 45-minute stroll in Jerusalem. I think I’ll join him next time.”

We can all write the next story.  When Kerry returns to DC, it’ll be reported that he was forced to leave the island due to the negative press, concerns over optics, blah blah blah.

As Ed Markey might say: Give. Me. A. Break.

A vacation occurs when one goes somewhere different (often nice) leaves the cell phone behind and tells the office, “don’t bother me for the next week.”  Anyone who thinks a President, Secretary of State, or any other senior official is every really on vacation doesn’t understand the job or chooses to ignore the vast improvements to our modern communications and information systems.  Last I checked, the nation’s top diplomat doesn’t need to wait for a diplomatic cable to arrive via the QE2 for an update.

Second, when home-based political opponents of the Secretary of State scream about bad optics, you might want to take a breath and pass on it as a serious critique.  The generals in Egypt aren’t going to make decisions based upon the origination point of the call from the Secretary of State.  Neither will any actor on the international stage.

Particularly when that call is from his home.

This entire story is about a former Senator who has political opponents who don’t much like him and willingly promote a caricature of him.

That’s their job, I guess.  But it’s not news and when the history of the relative success or failure of John Kerry’s tenure as Secretary of State is written, it won’t be worth even a footnote.

About Peter Ubertaccio

Peter Ubertaccio is the Director of Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College in Easton and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science & International Studies. His work focuses on political parties, marketing and institutions. He received his Ph.D. in Politics from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Professor Ubertaccio and his family live on Cape Cod where he is on the Board of Directors of the OpenCape Corporation and the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation.
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