Albright Touches Base

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JERUSALEM: On her first official visit to the Middle East, Albright has clearly brought her own inimitable public style to the task: emotional, direct, and with a touch of fire. In Jerusalem, surrounded by bomb victims at the Hadassah University hospital at Mount Scopus, Albright was at her grimmest. "When you actually see the people and see the individual injuries, it brings it home," she said. And when the mother of a 19 year-old victim urged Albright to bear the suicide attacks in mind "when you hug Arafat," Madeleine cut her short. "I am not going to hug Arafat," she said, solemnly.

This trip is a Sisyphean climb for a diplomat, and the path is well-worn by her predecessors. Tomorrow Albright meets with Arafat, presumably to insist once again on a security crackdown. One can only hope she can charm him as easily as she does Jesse Helms.