U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry — who spent the Fourth of July on sun-splashed Nantucket even as the chaos from a military takeover rocked Egypt — drew fire from Republican critics who said it’s a bad time for the nation’s top diplomat to be seen cavorting on an island getaway. “It doesn’t look good, and I think it sends the wrong message” said Republican strategist Brad Marston. “If I were advising him, I’d already have him on a plane.” As first reported on bostonherald.com, Kerry, who owns a house and a yacht on the ritzy retreat, was seen yesterday strolling down Federal Street away from July Fourth festivities on Main Street in jeans and a light-colored polo shirt. Later in the afternoon, Kerry was seen offloading bags from a single-person kayak to a boat in Nantucket Sound after launching from the beach behind his home at 5 Hulbert Ave.
Let's stipulate: Americans shouldn't begrudge our political leaders some R&R over a holiday weekend, and I think some conservatives go overboard in their criticisms of the Obamas' vacations. But when your job description is America's top diplomat, you simply must abandon your rest and relaxation plans when one of the most vital countries in the Middle East is undergoing a real-time tectonic shift with American interests at stake. You most certainly should not be off on your yacht or kayaking. Nevertheless, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it's entirely possible that Kerry was looped in to the developments in Cairo and beyond from Nantucket. He may have been just as up to speed on everything as most Americans would expect and demand. Nevertheless, the fact that Kerry was rumored to be aboard his yacht during the throes of Egypt's military coup paints a politically problematic image, even if appearances can be deceiving. I'd submit that if the State Department had promptly and transparently explained how Sec. Kerry was carrying out his duties from a remote location, his 'crisis-management-in-Sperrys' moment would have been a one-day story. A minor embarrassment, at worst. (Although a strong argument can be made that he should have canceled his vacation altogether based on the severity of the events on the ground -- including the death of a US citizen, and the removal of American diplomats from Cairo). Instead, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki -- a highly partisan Obama campaign retread in the mold of Stephanie Cutter -- categorically and repeatedly denied that Kerry was ever on his yacht during the events in Cairo:
CBS: after repeatedly denying it, state dept concedes secy Kerry spent time on his boat as Egypt coup unfolded http://t.co/bMfHv8aEqt— Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) July 5, 2013
Put another way: If the State Dept will so stupidly lie to cover up for Kerry, imagine what they'd do for Hillary or Obama. #Benghazi— NumbersMuncher (@NumbersMuncher) July 5, 2013
So would the State Dept. have stuck to its false denial re: Kerry & yacht if that photo hadn't surfaced? Not State's 1st trouble w/truth.— Brit Hume (@brithume) July 6, 2013
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography