There's never been a shortage of people willing to lampoon Senator John Kerry, or who have delighted in him being roasted.
Kerry has inflicted some of the damage himself, from trying to register a yacht in Rhode Island in an apparent Massachusetts tax dodge, to heading out windsurfing when presidential campaign advisers said it would underscore the elitist image they were trying to overcome.
Other damage has come from piling-on, all too easy with a person who can spend nearly as much time deciding what brand of beer to drink as it takes to down the first pint.
But those thoughts, emotions, or memories can seem petty when considering the duties he undertook today: representing the United States and delivering its complaints in the aftermath of the May 2 raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden while he hid amid a Pakistani military garrison.
Kerry is the highest-ranking US official to visit the country since bin Laden's death, and his arrival triggered a preemptive strategy session by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and army General Ashfaq Pavez Kayani.
The senator himself set the table during a news conference yesterday in Afghanistan, the first stop on his trip.
Relations with Pakistan, he said, were at a "critical moment" amid "disturbing evidence" of its government's knowledge of insurgent sanctuaries.
Possibly at stake: continued US aid for Pakistan, and a nuclear-armed ally for the United States, amid a volatile region that has become a gathering point for anti-American terrorists.
A week earlier, Kerry was in Faneuil Hall, holding a town meeting.
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the bin Laden raid were topics of discussions, but so were an array of local issues.
Part personal interest, part political reality, the Democrat has always shown a penchant for foreign affairs.
Kerry was raised the son of a Foreign Service worker, living and attending school overseas for part of his youth. He once got in trouble with his parents not for riding into a different neighborhood, but into East Germany as a 12-year-old.
He burst onto the national stage in the early 1970s, a Navy veteran questioning the wisdom of continuing the Vietnam War. "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" he famously said on April 23, 1971, while testifying before the same Senate committee he now leads.
His penchant helped undercut his 2004 presidential campaign, when Republicans harped on his French fluency and "Continental" flair during his campaign against President George W. Bush, a Texan by way of Connecticut and Yale University Kerry's alma mater.
Yet the political reality of Kerry's foreign focus was, in part, driven by the domestic dominance of his Senate counterpart, the late Edward M. Kennedy.
Kennedy was a peripatetic senator, everywhere at once and with an equally deep interest in state and national issues. He had a famed constituent-delivery machine, bred from his family's background in Boston politics.
Both for reasons of practice and seniority, Kerry got the message: stay out of the way, and defer to Kennedy for any major announcement.
That division of labor often accrued to Kerry's detriment, with inevitable complaints that Kennedy could get things done more efficiently than Kerry. The junior senator just bit his lip.
But following his own failed presidential campaign, and after providing Barack Obama with his first high-profile forum a speech by the then-Illinois state senator to the 2004 Democratic National Convention Kerry has emerged as a key White House emissary.
As such, now-President Obama has sent his own message: sometimes Kerry can get things done more efficiently than his own secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Without official portfolio and all its attendant publicity, Kerry has been able to espouse the administration's foreign policy views to key players in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, and, today, central Asia, with the safety valve of speaking as only a senator, not the country's official top diplomat.
That distinction has allowed Kerry to conduct the equivalent of diplomatic "off-the-record" conversations: delivering the administration's message, while allowing the president and his team to maintain plausible deniability.
Such work has prompted talk of Kerry replacing Clinton should Obama win a second term, speculation the senator has perpetuated with his world travels but tried to tamp down with statements that Clinton, not him, speaks for the country diplomatically.
On Saturday, the senator arrived in Afghanistan, where he received a security brief at Bagram Airfield and then flew to the northern city of Mazar to meet with its governor. He also visited a mosque and met with religious scholars before traveling back to Kabul for a meeting and dinner with President Hamid Karzai.
Yesterday, Kerry met with the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, before sitting down with General David Petraeus, who is leading the US war effort in Afghanistan and about to head home to lead the CIA.
He then flew into Pakistan, which could require some nerve if you consider Kerry is one of 100 senators in the same political party as the president of the country being criticized by Pakistani nationals for violating its sovereignty, and by Al Qaeda members who vow revenge for bin Laden's killing.
Kerry met in Islamabad with Kayani, the country's army chief, before meeting today with Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari.
According to The Associated Press, the countries subsequently announced they would work together in any future actions against "high-value targets" in Pakistan.
Kerry also said Clinton would soon announce plans to visit the country evidence the senator had cleared away some of the diplomatic underbrush for the secretary of state, and an opportunity for him and her to complete a good cop/bad cop routine.
Yet agreements aside, Kerry defended the administration's decision not to tell Pakistani leaders in advance about the bin Laden raid.
"My goal in coming here is not to apologize for what I consider to be a triumph against terrorism of unprecedented consequence," said Kerry. "My goal in coming here has been to talk about how we manage this important relationship."
He added: "When I spoke with the leaders of Pakistan last night and today, I explained that the extreme secrecy surrounding every aspect of the raid in Abbottabad was essential to protecting the lives of the professionals who were involved and ensuring they succeeded in capturing or killing the man responsible for so much death in so many places."
The senator also rebutted the sovereignty criticism, saying it was bin Laden, his followers, and other foreign fighters who had first violated the country's sanctity.
"They inspired and conspired with the extremists responsible for the deaths of 35,000 Pakistani citizens and the deaths of more than 5,000 Pakistani soldiers," said Kerry.
Finally, Kerry announced Pakistan had agreed to return the tail of the modified Blackhawk helicopter the Navy SEALs lost during their raid on the bin Laden compound.
That was a relief to defense officials, who have been concerned that remnants of the stealth aircraft would end up in the hands of the Chinese or other US military rivals.
Next week, a senator who has made a practice of straddling the local, national, and international worlds is just as likely to be advocating for the next generation of jet engine being produced by GE in Lynn.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.