Madeleine Albright on Policy, Sexism and Politics

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Madeleine Albright. ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, pictured in June 2007. Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Getty Images
Madeleine Albright and Condoleeza Rice

In 1997, Josef Korbel's daughter Madeleine Albright (right) became the first woman to serve as secretary of state. His star pupil at the University of Denver, Condoleezza Rice, became the second, in 2005. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption AFP/Getty Images

Madeleine Albright made history in 1997 as the first woman to be sworn in as U.S. secretary of state, serving in the Clinton administration. Now, Albright adds her voice to what could result in another first in U.S. history: the 2008 race for the White House.

In an interview with NPR's Michel Martin, Albright talks about her philosophy on foreign relations, as told in her new book Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership. She also shares frustrations about how the role of race and gender is shaping the race for the White House.

Supporting the Other Clinton

Albright is vocal about her support for Sen. Hillary Clinton, the wife of her former boss, in the race for the Democratic nomination.

"I spent a lot of time with her, and I know how she works. ... I think she's actually really good at working with people," Albright says.

But she says Democrats are in a good position no matter who gets the nomination.

"We are actually very lucky to have these two incredible candidates running," she says regarding Clinton's only rival, Sen. Barack Obama.

When asked whether she believes that her service, just over a decade ago, helped pave the way for women and minorities to serve their country in top leadership roles, she says she feels proud.

"I hope very much that this last glass ceiling will be broken," she says referring to the post of commander in chief.

On the Bush Administration

Albright says the current administration's war in Iraq has tainted the image of the U.S. abroad.

"This has been one of the worst presidencies that we've had," she says, adding, "We've lost our moral authority."

But the trailblazing leader, still influential in Washington politics, isn't unaware of critics who say the Clinton administration could have done more to prevent acts of terrorism against the U.S.

"We worked very hard to try and fight terrorism without creating more terrorists," she says. Albright cites the Monica Lewinsky scandal that plagued the Clinton administration, pointing out that some were reluctant to embrace reports on potential terrorists because they saw it as an attempt to turn attention away from the scandal.

On Condoleeza Rice

Albright is careful when it comes to discussing current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the second woman to hold the position. Rice was mentored by Albright's father, Josef Korbel, while studying at the University of Denver.

"I am suspending judgment in terms of her particular activities. ... I think we probably learned different things from my father," Albright says.

Written and produced for the Web by Lee Hill.

Books Featured In This Story

Memo to the President Elect

How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership

by Madeleine Korbel Albright and Bill Woodward

Hardcover, 328 pages |


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Memo to the President Elect
How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership
Madeleine Korbel Albright and Bill Woodward

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