The national media and political realms erupted Wednesday at the news that Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of State, had died at the age of 84.
Hillary Clinton, who later followed the trail blazed by Albright as head of the U.S. State Department, was among the many D.C. establishment figures to quickly issue statements of condolences while heralding Albright’s accomplishments.
Hillary loved Madeleine
Clinton wrote on Twitter, “I will always be deeply grateful for the wonderful friendship Bill and I shared with @madeleine and the unfailingly wise counsel she gave us over so many years. So many people around the world are alive and living better lives because of her service.”
Those remarks about her predecessor came attached to a tweeted statement from her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for whom Albright had served in the 1990s — first as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, then as secretary of State in Clinton’s second term as president.
I will always be deeply grateful for the wonderful friendship Bill and I shared with @madeleine and the unfailingly wise counsel she gave us over so many years.
So many people around the world are alive and living better lives because of her service. https://t.co/aw8HK71sbt
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 23, 2022
Former Czech refugee eventually became top U.S. diplomat
According to the Associated Press, Albright was born as Marie Jana Korbel in 1937 in former Czechoslovakia but her family fled the Nazi Germany occupation of that country to the United Kingdom in 1939 but returned after the end of World War II only to flee once again — this time to the United States — after the Soviet Union took over.
After obtaining multiple degrees from different universities and working as a journalist, she entered politics as a staffer to a Democratic senator before joining the Carter administration’s National Security Council, then advised Clinton’s 1992 campaign before joining that administration.
Since then, Albright has authored several books and been heralded by the media and political establishment as both a foreign policy expert as well as a feminist icon.
Obama and Biden praise Albright
Politico reported that, according to a statement from Albright’s family, the “tireless champion of democracy and human rights” who “rose to the heights of American policy-making” had succumbed to cancer.
In addition to the Clintons, with whom she was most closely associated, Albright’s passing was also noted by former President Barack Obama, who in 2012 had awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as America’s first female top diplomat.
Likewise, current President Joe Biden issued a statement honoring Albright and, according to Politico, ordered all U.S. flags at the White House, federal buildings, and military posts worldwide to be flown at half-staff until Sunday.
For better or worse — and there can be a legitimate debate about the ultimate outcomes of Albright’s work — she made a substantial impact on America’s foreign policy and stance on the global stage in the modern era, and she won’t soon be forgotten.