The Campaign Spot

Richard Holbrooke, Forever on Every Short List For Every Foreign Policy Position

One other “fresh face” being mentioned as a possible Obama cabinet member: Richard Holbrooke.

Like the others mentioned earlier, he’s one of those “same Washington players” Obama argued against in the primary against Hillary. Entered the Foreign Service in 1962. He joined Lyndon Johnson’s team of Vietnam advisers. Other than during the Reagan administration, he has spent his almost his entire life in Washington and various diplomatic positions.

If you go all the way back to the very first day of the Kerry Spot, you will find the following:

I was reading Things Worth Fighting For, the Michael Kelly collection, and came across his 1996 column on the discussions surrounding Clinton’s second choice for Foggy Bottom. A few excerpts:
I’m violently opposed to the idea of Richard Holbrooke as Secretary of State and only slightly less set against George Mitchell, and it is entirely personal. I don’t care if they’re qualified. They represent that which makes life in Washington hell. They are archetypes of the Washington Male…
The Washington Male has absolutely and profoundly no sense of humor… And greater love hath no man than this: that of the Washington Male for the Washington Male. A really pure Washington Male can be wrong about everything he does and says for decades without harboring a single twinge of self-doubt…
I wrote a modest story that I thought was mostly positive; it gave Holbrooke the credit he deserved for the Dayton peace plan, such as it was. I don’t think Holbrooke liked it very much. A year later he found a better biographer: himself. He wrote up his own story and The New Yorker published it, at about the time the Nobel Committee was deciding who should get the peace prize this year. A few days after the magazine went on the stands, The New Yorker’s publicity department got a telephone call from Holbrooke’s office. The ambassador’s office wanted to know if The New Yorker had sent a copy of the issue to every member of Congress…
He is skilled at bullying people, which is how he got the boys to sign in Dayton, and he is skilled at leaking and spinning to the press, which is how he made Dayton look like Appomattox… Holbrooke as Secretary would mean that The New York Times would run every day a story detailing how, in the words of an unnamed senior administration official, everyone in the administration except Secretary Holbrooke was an utter buffoon.

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