Most officials, foreign-policy experts, and friends who have watched Kerry in action say he has demonstrated the diplomatic traits – the patience, perseverance, artfulness, and stature – required to further the president’s international priorities and to successfully represent America to the world.
“What you see with John Kerry is what you get: He’s a serious, very articulate man, and he has the stature to really further America’s interests,” says Sanford Katz, a family law professor at Boston College who taught Kerry, a 1976 alumnus of the law school.
That “stature” would also serve Kerry well in the difficult task of following in the footsteps of Secretary Clinton, who has enjoyed – and employed – the rock-star status she’s gained around the world.
Many international experts cite Kerry’s productive forays into some of the toughest diplomatic thickets as a quiet Obama envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years as evidence of his potential effectiveness.
“He combined a presence and stature and a skill at conducting personal relations with difficult people that bodes well for his ability to carry out the duties of secretary of State, should he be so named,” says James Dobbins, a former special US envoy to Afghanistan, speaking in particular of Kerry’s dealings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2009.