Updates on Holbrooke and Steele

A sad update to a story from the weekend: Richard Holbrooke, U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, passed away last night, following emergency surgery to repair a torn aorta on Saturday.

Both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saluted Holbrooke’s long diplomatic service shortly before his death, praising a career that began under JFK.  The best encomium came from Henry Kissinger, quoted by Fox News as saying, “If Richard calls you and asks for something, just say yes.  If you say no, you’ll eventually get to yes, but the journey will be very painful.”

Holbrooke will be succeeded, at least temporarily, by his deputy Frank Ruggerio, who has some big shoes to fill.  It’s an honor to enter the last days of your life knowing that other people are alive because you were good at your job.  Richard Holbrooke had an ego, and his large feet were good for stepping on toes, but he worked long and hard to bring light to some very dark places.  May he rest now in a bright one.

Also, an update to a story from yesterday: Michael Steele announced last night that he would run for re-election as chairman of the Republican National Committee, after some speculation that he would not.  Doug McKelway reports for Fox News that Steele said, during a conference call with RNC members, “I ask for your support, and your vote, for a second term… Yes, I have stumbled along the way, but have always accounted to you for such shortcomings.  No excuses, no lies, no hidden agenda.”  He was reportedly “amused by false reports of his retirement and intentionally kept his plans secret for the last month in order to flush out competitors for the post,” which might qualify as a “hidden agenda” if you want to pick nits.

Steele’s endorsements include former Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr., who returned to private life after being defeated by Democrat Martin O’Malley in 2006, and former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman, defeated under murky circumstances by comedian Al Franken in 2008.  Coleman was once considered a likely candidate for the RNC chair himself, but declared strong support for Steele several weeks ago. 

Some observers consider Steele’s re-election highly likely, since his critics have been outspoken, but relatively few of the 168 members of the RNC have openly expressed doubts about him.  The Republican National Committee will choose their chairman in January.