In its story on Holbrooke's death, the Washington Post reports this vignette: "The hulking, broad-shouldered Mr. Holbrooke knew presidents and prime ministers, journalists and policy wonks—and he wanted to make sure everyone he knew knew one another.
"At cocktail receptions and dinner parties, he frequently dragged people across the room for an introduction to someone they just 'had to know.' The introductions always came with extensive praise of one friend being introduced to another."
And, also, there is this: "On one trip to Pakistan, he padded to the forward of the cabin in his stocking feet to point out to a reporter a passage in Margaret Bourke-White's memoirs of the time of India-Pakistan partition and independence.
"Bourke-White quoted Pakistani leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah telling her that Pakistan would have no problems with the Americans, because 'they will always need us more than we need them.'
"Mr. Holbrooke laughed, saying, 'Nothing ever changes.'"
At a time when federal officials and their workers have been reduced to caricature, this portrait of Holbrooke is the antidote.
The fact is that while Holbrooke was extraordinary, he was hardly unique.
Washington is full of people just as smart, big-hearted, dedicated, and irrepressible as he was—on both sides of the political spectrum.
These are the "thoughtful corporals" of our capital. These folks way well be partisan Democrats (as Holbrooke was), or Republicans, but they usually leave the bickering to others.
Folks like Holbrooke come to Washington to do good, and make their mark. They come to get results, to make their country—and in the case of diplomats like Holbrooke, the world—a better place.
It is a pity more Americans didn't get a chance to know Holbrooke and others like him.
If they did, they would come to have a much different opinion of their government, and of the people who work in this city every day.