A Look at Holbrooke’s Team: Some News on America’s Af/Pak Envoy (Part I)

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richard holbrooke.jpgThis morning, I spent a couple of hours watching Richard Holbrooke interact with his interagency team before, during and after an all hands SRAP (Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan) meeting at the State Department.
Holbrooke is good to his people — affirming, serious but on their side. Holbrooke’s tenacious focus on results is legend in Washington — but today and on another occasion when I was given the privilege of sitting in on his team meeting, I saw what few publicly see — the deployment of warmth that he uses to motivate and build loyalty.
There is a palpable chumminess and sticky glue between these people who have been seconded to SRAP whether they are press and communications types, experts in seed to market farming, or military engineers who know how to build roads and bridges and SMS systems — in Afghanistan.
I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Holbrooke’s Af/Pak portfolio — both form and substance — later this afternoon (or perhaps tomorrow morning).
But one bit of important, personal news I want to share about this big personality who holds one of the most toxic briefs in Washington.
Yesterday at 2 pm, Richard Holbrooke was told that he may have some clogged heart arteries — and is going in Thursday for an angiogram and further treatment in New York. He was supposed to travel with Jack Lew, Rajiv Shah and others with General David Petraeus on a major AfPak trip this week, but will have to forego that trip.
Holbrooke assured me that these kinds of things are routine now. He shared the news with Secretary of State Clinton last night — and was in the process of contacting General Petraeus during our meeting.
When at the end of his staff meeting he conveyed this personal news to the 50 members of his team, he was very low key and laughing about it. There were looks of concern around the room — but he looked at them in his paternal way paused and said with a wry grin as if he’d never offered this sort of thing to them before “Come talk to me. I want you to share all of your angioplasty stories with me.”
And they are — kind of like watching a long line of medical home movies — but I hear Holbrooke is smiling through it all.
He said he planned to be back in the office on Monday.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

5 comments on “A Look at Holbrooke’s Team: Some News on America’s Af/Pak Envoy (Part I)

  1. factory coach outlet says:

    Such a nice post.waiting for more.

    Reply

  2. Don Bacon says:

    news report:
    U.S. Envoy Holbrooke to Be Treated for Clogged Heart Valves
    Clogged.

    Reply

  3. WigWag says:

    “First, many of these conditions are caused by improper lifestyle decisions regarding diet and exercise. I don’t know about Holbrooke, but too many Americans shun exercise and eat a preponderance of nutrition-poor foods, which lead to arterial problems.” (Don Bacon)
    Actually valvular heart disease (as opposed to coronary artery disease) is rarely caused by life style factors although life style factors can aggravate preexisting disease.
    It’s unclear precisely what type of procedure, if any, that the Ambassador will need. Presumably he’s already had a Doppler ultrasound; his cardiac catheterization will provide a definitive diagnosis.
    Here’s a video of one specific type of procedure; minimally invasive replacement of the aortic valve with an artificial device. It is just one of many surgical procedures used to treat heart valve problems.
    Warning; it’s not for the squeamish.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3slxz2br2fg&feature=related
    Even though the safety profile of valve surgery is excellent, you’re right Don Bacon, surgery always comes with some risk including infection. A small number of mostly older patients also experience neurological deficits as a result of being on the heart-lung machine. Anesthesia induced complications are also always a risk.
    But I do think that we are blessed to live in an age where conditions that were once uniformly fatal can now be treated relatively easily.
    Thank goodness that the chances are overwhelming that regardless of whether or not he needs a procedure and regardless of what type of procedure it might be, Holbrooke’s chances for a speedy and uncomplicated recuperation are very high.
    Although I don’t always agree with him, Holbrooke is a great man.
    I am sure that he will be fine. It will be good for our country when he is as good as new!

    Reply

  4. Don Bacon says:

    Without getting preachy, okay I’ll get preachy, the attitude that “these kinds of things are routine now” and the doctors can easily fix me up is not — healthy.
    First, many of these conditions are caused by improper lifestyle decisions regarding diet and exercise. I don’t know about Holbrooke, but too many Americans shun exercise and eat a preponderance of nutrition-poor foods, which lead to arterial problems.
    Secondly, any kind of surgery is risky and carries a chance of infection.
    Finally, there is the expense of these procedures, which in the US are at least $20,000. Who’s going to pay?
    End of lecture.

    Reply

  5. WigWag says:

    The good news is that calcified heart valves are relatively easy to fix today. If the calcification is not too bad, replacement of the valve(s) may not be necessary; the native valves can often be repaired. Believe it or not, this is actually relatively simple surgery; the patient rarely needs to be in the hospital for as long as a week. Often it can be done with minimally invasive surgical techniques that don

    Reply

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