What Were Richard Holbrooke's Last Words?

The Washington Post may have added some literary flair to its account of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke's last words, according to the State Department. Did he ominously whisper, "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan," or was it just banter?

Whom should we trust more with reportorial accuracy, the Washington Post or State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley? That's a tough call, but here's Crowley's take:

I should note that a lot of media coverage this morning about the interaction between Ambassador Holbrooke and his medical team as he was preparing for surgery for Friday - I've consulted with a number of folks who were in the room.

There was a, you know, lengthy exchange with Ambassador Holbrooke and the medical team, probably reflecting Richard's relentless pursuit of the policy that he had - he had helped to craft and was charged by the president and the secretary with carrying out.

At one point, the medical team said, "You've got to relax."

And Richard said, "I can't relax. I'm worried about Afghanistan and Pakistan."

And then after some additional exchanges, you know, the medical team finally - finally said, "Well, tell you what; we'll try to fix this challenge while you're undergoing surgery."

And he said, "Yeah, see if you can take care of that, including ending the war."

In other words, he didn't grab the doctor's lapels, let the room become dark and silent, and go, "THE HORROR! THE HORROR!" before expiring, leaving all Americans to grapple with these words of vast world-historical importance. He was more like, "Hey doc, since I have to go under, maybe you can wrap up this AfPak situation for me?"

But you're still allowed to believe that ending a decade-long war would be a good idea, regardless of how Richard Holbrooke may have communicated with his doctor.

[Image via Getty]