John Kerry: Foreign Leaders Mocked Us Over the Shutdown

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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