John Kerry: Foreign Leaders Mocked Us Over the Shutdown

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US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during the Center for American Progress(PAC) 10th Anniversary Conference in Washington, DC, October 24, 2013.
National Journal
Beth Reinhard
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Beth Reinhard
Oct. 24, 2013, 11:50 a.m.

Just how bad was the shut­down for Amer­ica’s im­age on the world stage? So bad, says Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry, that for­eign of­fi­cials joked about buy­ing him meals.

“I have seen how our al­lies, our part­ners and those who wish to chal­lenge us or to do us harm are all siz­ing us up every day,” Kerry said at an event hos­ted by Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress, a lib­er­al think tank. “What we do in Wash­ing­ton mat­ters deeply”¦that’s why a self-in­flic­ted wound like the shut­down can nev­er hap­pen again.”

Kerry ad­ded that the shut­down delayed se­cur­ity aid to Is­rael. “The dys­func­tion and the shut­down and the simplist­ic dia­logue that came with it didn’t im­press any­one,” he said.

The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment was mostly shuttered for 16 days after House Re­pub­lic­ans re­fused to sign off on a budget un­less it stripped away fund­ing for Pres­id­ent Obama’s health care law. The im­passe was con­demned re­peatedly by the Demo­crat­ic lead­ers and pro­gress­ive poli­cy­makers at the con­fer­ence.

“I do love this coun­try, dam­nit, and this coun­try is in deep trouble,” de­clared former Vice Pres­id­ent Al Gore. “What happened down there on Cap­it­ol Hill was pathet­ic.”

The shut­down sent the GOP’s ap­prov­al rat­ings spiral­ing down­ward, lead­ing some Demo­crats to think they might be able to take over the House in the 2014 mid-term elec­tion. “If they stay on course Demo­crats have a good chance,” said Chica­go May­or Rahm Emanuel, a former con­gress­man who led the Demo­crat­ic Party’s House cam­paign com­mit­tee. “If they re­verse course than it’s a dis­trict by dis­trict scen­ario.

Ger­ry­man­der­ing by GOP-led state le­gis­latures, however, have left few com­pet­it­ive seats. “This is a map that the Re­pub­lic­ans de­signed na­tion­wide,” Emanuel said. “If you want to win it back, you have to pick the lock na­tion­wide.”

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