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Western Press Review: Clinton's Cabinet Choices Get Mixed Reviews

Prague, 6 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - U.S. President Clinton yesterday nominated Madeleine Albright to become the first woman to head the country's state department. But this nomination and that of Republican Senator William Cohen to the post of Secretary of Defense are getting mixed reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH: Albright has never shown an interest in Britain

The paper expressed disappointment with Albright's appointment. Its Washington correspondent, Stephen Robinson, says: "her promotion was not universally welcomed in Washington yesterday and she was not near the top of the British preferred list of candidates. London would have liked George Mitchell, the President's envoy to Northern Ireland. Despite her early years in London, Mrs. Albright has never shown any special interest in Britain or British issues, such as Northern Ireland."

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Clinton's appointments signal a more activist foreign policy

But William Neikirk and Terry Atlas say in today's edition that Albright's appointment sends a signal on what Clinton wants to achieve in his second term. They write: "Signaling a more activist foreign policy in his second term, President Clinton on Thursday nominated Madeleine Albright as the first woman secretary of state and retiring Sen. William Cohen as the first Republican in his Cabinet. With Cohen as defense secretary, the pair would become the central figures in a new national security team that will guide U.S. foreign policy through treacherous challenges at a time of rapid international change."

NEW YORK TIMES: The appointments will bring adjustments but no drastic changes

The paper said in an editorial today: "President Clinton has selected a sound if largely familiar national security team for his second term, making some history while he was at it. Madeleine Albright promises to be an articulate defender of American interests and principles as secretary of state. Sen. William Cohen, a moderate Republican selected to be secretary of defense, has long championed sensible Pentagon budgets and restraint in the use of American military force. They are likely to bring adjustments but no drastic changes in American foreign policy."

LONDON TIMES: Jesse Helms admires Albright's undiplomatic style

Meanwhile, the paper notes in its editorial that politics truly do make strange bedfellows: "The appointment will be regarded as the triumph of one of the most improbable partnerships in American political history; that between Hillary Clinton, the liberal-inclined First Lady, and Senator Jesse Helms, the ultra -conservative Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mrs. Clinton supported Ms. Albright largely because of her gender. The North Carolina Senator is an admirer of her undiplomatic style."

MIAMI HERALD: Albright walked into the hearts of thousands of South Floridians

Albright's undiplomatic style is being welcomed in southern Florida -- home to thousands of Cuban exiles and anti-Castro campaigners. Christopher Marquis writes in today's edition: "Long before the greatest step of her career Thursday, Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright walked into the hearts of thousands of South Floridians by blasting communist killers and donning black to mourn their victims. A master of the memorable phrase, it was Albright who provided the Clinton administration's piquant retort to Cuban air force pilots who boasted in February of shooting down two unarmed civilian planes of Miami-based Brothers to the Rescue: 'This is not cojones, this is cowardice.' 'Albright is all right," said Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican. 'She has come to know and love our community.'"

WASHINGTON POST: Some depict Albright as an intellectual lightweight

But while her straightforward style is cheered in Florida, others accuse Albright of relying on the quick phrase rather than thinking substantively. Michael Dobbs and John Goshko write in today's edition: "Opinions are divided about Albright. Many praise her for her ability to articulate the challenges that face U.S. foreign policy makers and forge a political consensus. Others, who insist on not being quoted by name, depict her as an intellectual lightweight whose main talent lay in her networking abilities."

FINANCIAL TIMES: The new foreign policy team will disappoint those weaned on American Metternichs

Jurek Martin also detects disappointment with Clinton's new foreign policy team in today's edition. He writes: "The foreign policy establishment in Washington and in other world capitals, has been hoping against hope that President Bill Clinton would offer the world a second-term vision of America's place in a changing world it has considered so lacking in his first four years. The president himself may yet address this task. But the foreign policy team he unveiled yesterday will nonetheless disappoint those weaned on a tradition of latter day American Metternichs -- Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, even James Baker -- to whom global strategy, whether applied well or badly, was mother's milk. The paper trail of ideas and thinking compiled by Mrs. Albright...Mr. Cohen...Mr. Anthony Lake...and Mr. Sandy not, except in the case of Mr. Lake, extensive."

WASHINGTON POST: Clinton has not answered the question of where he hopes to take defense and foreign policy

Dan Balz writes in today's edition: "President Clinton made a dramatic statement about the importance of diversity, loyalty and personal chemistry in the construction of a second-term Cabinet. But in unveiling his new national security team Thursday, he left unanswered the question of where he hopes to take foreign and defense policy the next four years. There are a host of questions about the new team, not least of which is whether it can articulate a world role for the United States for a skeptical -- and tight-fisted -- Congress and a disinterested public. Nor it is clear who will emerge as the administration's leader in shaping a foreign policy that fits the requirements of the post-Cold War world."