- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Professor Josef Korbel introduced his daughter, Madeleine K. Albright, to his favorite student at the University of Denver, Condoleezza Rice, more than three decades ago.

They went on to become the country’s first female secretaries of state, albeit belonging to different political parties.

The two women met again yesterday at the State Department, where Miss Rice unveiled the official portrait of Mrs. Albright, who was appointed the nation’s top diplomat eight years before Miss Rice.

Mrs. Albright’s life-size portrait joined those of her 63 male predecessors, beginning with Thomas Jefferson, on the walls of the State Department’s ornate reception rooms.

It was painted by Steven Polson, and its frame measures 63 inches in height and 43 in width.

Mrs. Albright thanked the artist for “producing such a brilliant work with limited material at hand.”

“While I was in office, I was called everything from a ‘snake’ to a ‘witch’ to ‘elderly but dangerous.’ Steven did a marvelous job at concealing all of those qualities,” she said in a characteristic self-deprecating manner.

Mrs. Albright was secretary of state in the Clinton administration from 1997 until 2001. Miss Rice, who at 53 is 17 years Mrs. Albright’s junior, assumed office in 2005. Colin L. Powell held the post in the intervening period.

Although the two diplomats have criticized each other’s policies repeatedly, their tone at the State Department ceremony was friendly. Miss Rice called Mrs. Albright “my friend,” and Mrs. Albright referred to Miss Rice as “my sister.”

“I know and like Madeleine very much,” Miss Rice said in an interview eight years ago, when she was chief foreign policy adviser to presidential candidate George W. Bush.

“You can have the same intellectual father and different outcomes, but there are some powerful core values that we share. On issues of how you use power, we probably don’t agree,” she said.

At the time, Mrs. Albright was amused by the “same intellectual father” remark, recalling that she had used the same argument to lure Miss Rice to the 1988 campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis.

Mrs. Albright was shocked to find out that her father’s student had become a Republican. Yesterday, she used that same phrase, this time seriously.

A former Czech diplomat, Mr. Korbel inspired both women’s interest in international affairs. They learned Russian and pursued careers in foreign policy, first in academia and later in government.

In the 2000 interview, Miss Rice criticized most of Mrs. Albright’s policies, particularly the Clinton administration’s heavy humanitarian agenda and involvement in nation-building in the Balkans. Yesterday, Miss Rice praised Mrs. Albright’s “vision” that kept “America engaged in the world.”

Mrs. Albright, a harsh critic of the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war and a supporter of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, told Miss Rice that she was “doing a remarkable job in a difficult era.”

Mrs. Albright was born in Prague, but her family fled both Nazism and communism and moved to the United States in 1948, eventually settling in Denver, where Miss Rice’s family relocated from Birmingham, Ala., in 1968.


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