I WAS QUEEN OF
A FEW DAYS BEFORE the first anniversary of Albright's swearing in, I ran into a senior member of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the lunch line in the State Department cafeteria. He was gloomy, and did not seem happy to see me. I asked what was wrong, and he responded that he and his colleagues were upset because "We're getting hammered in the press."
Hammered in the press? What could he have been talking about? Certainly Albright, Berger, and the president himself were being criticized by many columnists and editorial writers at the time for the fact that Saddam Hussein was again defying the international weapons inspectors with whom the U.N. Security Council had ordered him to cooperate, and the Clinton administration did not seem to know what to do about it. But by historical standards, and in comparison with Albright's predecessor, Warren Christopher, Albright and her team were not only not "getting hammered," they were getting a virtual free ride from the Washington media. It has been said that Washington is a city that runs on protocol, alcohol, Geritol, and vitriol, but Albright had been mostly spared the vitriol except from a few snipers on the far right.
One reason was that Albright and her senior advisers--Strobe Talbott, Tom Pickering, and Stuart Eizenstat in particular--had earned generally good grades in their first year. Talbott, a friend of Clinton's from their Oxford days, is a former Time correspondent who entered the administration in the first term as Clinton's princi-