In the news:
Military might alone shouldn’t define foreign policy, Kerry tells panel
• Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called on the Republican Party to “stop being the stupid party” Thursday as GOP leaders promised fundamental changes to help stave off future losses. In the keynote address at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Charlotte, N.C., Jindal said the GOP doesn’t need to change its values but “might need to change just about everything else we are doing.” Jindal is a potential 2016 presidential contender.
• Democratic support for Chuck Hagel’s nomination for defense secretary grew Thursday as the former Republican senator allayed concerns about his past statements on Israel and Iran. Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Chris Coons of Delaware, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, said they met with Hagel this week and were reassured by his commitment to Israel’s security. Six Republicans have said they would vote against Hagel.
Seattle Times news services
WASHINGTON — Poised to become secretary of state for an administration wrapping up a decade of war, Sen. John Kerry described in his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday a vision for greater trade and engagement with foreign partners to underline that “American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone.”
“We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role we have had to play since Sept. 11,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which he’s served for more than two decades.
A Senate vote on Kerry’s nomination is expected within days. He’s assured confirmation, given the strong bipartisan support for the veteran Democrat. On Thursday, he was introduced by high-profile allies: departing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts.
All three told the committee that Kerry’s quarter-century of public service and his experience as a veteran of the Vietnam War had groomed him for the Cabinet post. Clinton praised him as “the right choice” to advance the Obama administration’s foreign-policy goals. McCain said Kerry showed “masterful” diplomacy as he led efforts to normalize relations with Vietnam after the war.
When a woman interrupted the hearing with anti-war protests, Kerry defended her right to express her views and reminded the panel that he’d once testified before Congress as an anti-war protester in the Vietnam era.
“People measure what we do,” Kerry said. “And in a way that’s a good exclamation point to my testimony.”