As Republican senators suddenly break out the effusive praise for Democratic Senator John Kerry as the right choice over Susan Rice for Secretary of State, well, there's a whole lot of flip-flopping on the not-so-fast track to Foggy Bottom. We should, of course, grant this praise as heartfelt and sincere — not at all tied to blocking President Obama from getting his first pick or opening up a Massachusetts Senate seat for just-defeated Scott Brown — and instead simply marvel at how far we've come in the last eight years. Many, many reporters and pundits have complained that Washington is broken, and that the Senate is dysfunctional. But just take a look at the endorsements from Friday's heartfelt story of GOP love for Kerry in The New York Times — then look at what the same senators said back when he was running for president — and the healing across party lines is there for the world to see. That or the blocking thing.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins
In 2012, the Times reports that Collins is thrilled at the idea of Kerry as America's top diplomat:
Mr. Kerry, [Collins] added, "would be an excellent appointment and would be easily confirmed by his colleagues."
On MSNBC's Hardball on September 2, 2004, Collins had quite a dim view of Kerry's instincts on foreign policy. She said of Zell Miller's Republican National Convention speech:
I thought the part of the speech that was most effective was when he went through all of the weapon systems that John Kerry had voted against and talked about how important they had been to our troops. That part of the speech I thought was a devastating indictment of Senator Kerry's record on defense issues.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman
In 2012, Portman says Kerry's nomination would be a breeze:
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, speaking of [UN Ambassador and potential State nominee Susan] Rice, said: "I think there are other good choices for secretary of state, better choices probably. I think Senator Kerry is one of them. He would have an easy time here."
On MSNBC's Hardball October 5, 2004, Portman found Kerry's foreign policy views quite troubling. He said of Dick Cheney's focus during the vice-presidential debate:
He'll look at John Kerry's 20-year record in the Senate, which is out of the mainstream. And he did support a lot of tax increases and did he support a lot of cuts in intelligence and defense.
And he explained how hard it was to prep Cheney for the debates, because Kerry and running mate John Edwards were such flip-floppers:
It is interesting when I think back a few months ago, because, at that time, John Edwards was saying on the stump what John Kerry was saying, which is sort of wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. And then it was, we're going to win this thing. And then it was, in six months, we'll have half the troops out and then within four years. So you're not sure which position to be using, because you want to be authentic.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski
“I think he would do a great job,” gushed Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska. “Anyone who has worked with Senator Kerry knows his good, hard work ethic and his expertise on foreign relations.”
Murkowski in 2004:
"It's so important not to have John Kerry in office."