John Kerry's Senate hearing on Thursday was a much friendlier affair than the fictional appearance of mob leader Michael Corleone before a Senate panel that was depicted in the movie The Godfather: Part II. But that didn't stop Kerry, President Obama's nominee for secretary of State, from drawing inspiration from the film.
In the hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, senators heaped praise on Kerry for his almost 30 years of service in the Senate and his dedication to foreign policy. The only contentious moment arose when the nominee was asked about Chuck Hagel, Obama's pick for secretary of Defense.
Kerry, in his introduction, thanked Sens. John McCain and Elizabeth Warren and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for their laudatory comments about him. But he acknowledged a role reversal -- he has chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for years and now is on the receiving end of the committee's questions. He told the senators he had never “seen a more distinguished and better-looking group of public officials in my life,” and he joked that the hearing might turn into a scene from the second Godfather movie.
“I want you to know that a couple nights ago, I was watching Godfather II,” Kerry said. “So be forewarned: If someone suddenly shows up with my long-lost brother back in the audience, all bets are off, folks.”
The senators laughed, as they did at several of Kerry’s quips throughout his testimony. But, alas, no long-lost brother showed up. In The Godfather: Part II, former mobster Frank Pantangeli appeared before a Senate committee to testify on the Corleone family’s mob behavior. In the movie, Pantangeli, before he began his testimony, noticed his brother from Sicily in the back of the room. Not wanting to shame the family, he denied his previous affidavit to the dismay and shock of the senators, and mob boss Corleone walked free.
The panelists for Kerry’s hearing were a kinder to him. Fittingly, Sen. Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who served as the temporary head of the committee, mistakenly called him, “Secretary Kerry.”
“I have a sense of clairvoyance,” he said.
Democrats weren't the only ones to praise Kerry. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the panel, commended Kerry on his service and predicted a speedy confirmation.
“There’s no one in the United States Senate that's spent more time than you have on issues important to our country,” Corker said in his opening remarks, later adding, “My sense is your confirmation will go through very, very quickly.”