Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Words

Seems like everybody in my Google Reader this morning is citing "Richard Holbrooke's last words:"

"You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan."

"Patient zero" seems to be this Twitter feed.

I'm a great admirer of Richard Holbrooke and I share the widely held view that we've lost a giant.  But were these his "last words?"  I doubt it.  I think it is pretty clear by now that "last words" are a cultural construct, especially popular in Victorian times though I bet they go back to the stoics (cf. "see how a Christian dies!").   The reality is virtually always less theatrical.

But here's a guess: it wouldn't knock me over to find out that Holbrooke, hospitalized, in extremis and with his loved ones, indulged in a moment of black humor to say "yeh, if I go, tell them my last words were..."  This guy was as dedicated, determined--and savvy--as any diplomat whose services we ever enjoyed.   And he understood that part of the job was playing the media. 

OBTW, whether or not I am right, let's agree that he was right.

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