John Kerry's confirmation hearing to become the Secretary of State will be marked (if it's marked at all by history) as one of the friendliest that the Senate has ever seen. It might have something do with the fact that Kerry is technically still the chairman of the committee interviewing him. Or that the Kerry has been a member of that same committee since his first year in Congress back in 1985. Or that another
long-standing member of the committee, a Republican, sat next to him as a character witness.
It was clear from the outset that Kerry would not be facing much of a challenge, even from the Republican members. Bob Corker, the Ranking Republican Member of the committee, who just 24 hours earlier led the charge against Kerry's predecessor (who was also there to lend moral support today), opened the proceedings by saying, "Your confirmation will go through very quickly." Even Corker's compliments rivaled those of the Democrats. ("No one in the Senate has spent more time on these important issues than you.")
Republican Jim Risch's first question was about Kerry's Idaho property, which he's obviously spent time at before. We lost count of the number of "thank you"s from both Republican and Democratic Senators. Once Kerry introduced his wife ("I believe you all know her"); got a round of hearty guffaws for his opening joke ("I don't want this to affect your opening questions, but I've never seen a more distinguished and better looking group of public officials"); and then dropped a "Godfather II" reference, it was basically a done deal.
If fact, the only wrinkle at all was a short, but dignified outburst from a single protestor in a (code) pink winter hat, who shouted out about our conflict in the Middle East and how she's tired of hearing about her friends dying over there. Not to discount her obviously genuine outrage, but she didn't even seem that upset with Kerry personally. And even Kerry, who is no stranger to protests, smoothed things over by saying he sympathizes with her and that listening to the voice of the people is what "this place is all about." When the only person yelling out is actually helping your cause, you know it's going to be an easy day.
The hearing is still ongoing, if you want to watch more of the mutual admiration society.