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John Kerry speaks at the Chatham House event. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg, outgoing president, introduced John Kerry as the next president of Alfalfa Club. Bloomberg's best: "Who needs the White House when you can be president of the Alfalfa Club?  Actually, I've loved every minute of it. I come to the office every weekday at 11 a.m."

"Here I am — President John Kerry! I knew this day would come. Although given the Alfalfa average income, thank God I didn’t get Swift-yachted.”

Former Secretary of State John Kerry followed:

  • “I’m proud to serve as your new club president. And don’t worry, this  doesn’t mean you’re also getting John Edwards.”
  • “Despite the pressure he’s under, the White House physician says President Trump is in great shape — a trim 239 pounds. Personally, I just won’t believe him until he produces his long-form girth certificate.”
  • “As Mitt Romney and I can attest, being elected in Massachusetts means: You are only a heartbeat away from losing the presidency.”

Kerry's toast:

  • “There’s a fellow Alfalfan, who couldn’t be with us tonight, who I met 32 years ago this month. We both loved the Navy. But we had opposite views about a war in which we’d both served. When we first came to the Senate, we didn’t trust each other. We didn’t really know each other. But after a long conversation on a long flight, we decided to work hand in hand to actually make peace with Vietnam and with ourselves here in America." ...
  • "He loves to debate, he loves to battle.  But one thing the service and the Senate taught John and me — at some point, America’s got to come together."
  • "And I hope you’ll believe the two of us Alfalfans:  If Washington is a city where you can bridge the divide between a protester and a POW, finding common ground on anything else shouldn’t be so hard at all."
  • "I will always thank John McCain for sharing in the discovery of that lesson — and tonight I ask all of you to join me in raising a glass to one of the best and bravest men I know, my friend — our friend — John McCain."

President George W. Bush, making a surprise appearance at last night's Alfalfa Club dinner, gave the Crop Report, which introduces new members:

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook
  • Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.)
  • Lazard chairman and CEO Ken Jacobs
  • Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R- Ohio)
  • Jerome Powell, incoming Federal Reserve chair
  • Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM
  • Anthony Welters, executive chairman, BlackIvy Group
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Go deeper

43 mins ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

2 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.