In the outpouring of commentary on the death of North Korea’s murderous Dear Leader, I’ve been looking for the thoughts of Clinton administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She courted Kim Jong Il relentlessly, thinking that the powers of her charm could compete with his yen for nuclear weapons. Her charm offensive culminated in a rare direct meeting in October 2000 with Kim Jong Il at which she danced with the dictator and gave him a basketball signed by Michael Jordan.
In this public radio clip Albright recalls wearing an American flag on her dress when she met him. She seems to think that she thereby somehow got the better of him. I don’t think so.
Rush captures a somewhat more effusive post-dance Albright in a media montage quoted by Ann Althouse:
ALBRIGHT: He said that he would really have loved to have been a movie director. He knew a lot about American movies and had suggestions for Oscar nominations and, you know, he also liked American sports, he liked Michael Jordan. It was possible to talk with him. He’s not a nut. I think that’s the main kind of point. I think that it’s important actually not to make fun. He wanted me to e-mail with him. I think the thing that’s interesting, Larry, is I do not believe that he’s crazy. I know a lot of people have said that. I don’t think so.
Obama administration Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman traveled to Pyongyang with then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when she was President Clinton’s special adviser on North Korea. She’s now a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, according to ABC News, is said still to have a hand in the North Korea portfolio. Sherman recalls Kim Jong-Il as “a conceptual thinker” and more! He was also “smart, engaged, knowledgeable, self-confident, sort of the master-director of all he surveyed” and more! “He is also witty and humorous. Our overall impression was very different from the way he was known to the outside world.”
Kim Jong Il may or may not have been nuts, but you really have to wonder about his American admirers.