Brand new Secretary of State John Kerry noted that he had "big heels to fill" as he took charge of Foggy Bottom on Monday. The first secretary of state to wear heels, Madeleine Albright, gave a quick assessment of Kerry Wednesday night. "I think that he's going to be a great secretary of state, despite his gender," Albright chuckled.
She was being honored in Washington by World Learning, a group that innovated study abroad programs, and was interviewed about her more "absurd" moments on the job by PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill. "Nobody will believe this ... among the things that a secretary of state has to do is to go to the Asean meetings ... where every country puts on a skit," Albright recounted. "I was asked to do this and they said we have to do this and America always does very badly." Albright recalled that the State Department had tried giving her the lyrics of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," or something, to sing, but Madame Secretary decided that she could do better.
"On the way over I decided that I would sing, 'Don't Cry for Me Aseans,' and I got dressed up as Madonna," Albright recalled. "Evita, I hope, not Madonna -- that would be a whole different thing," Ifill offered. "Yes, yes and everybody was truly stunned," Albright laughed. "Talk about the absurd."
Making the story even better, Albright said that she and the Russians teamed up to do a performance the next year. "So we did our version of 'West Side Story,' 'East West Story,' " she said of her duet with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov. "We rehearsed in Douglas MacArthur's suite in Manilla. They brought a lot of vodka and we actually got through it."