Richard Holbrooke with POTUS

What did you say?

Source: White House/Flickr

Above is an official White House photo taken by Pete Souza. It shows President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, in the Oval Office during a briefing prior to meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on May 6, 2009.

Update (revised post): A blog friend cautions against reading too much into this picture. Without knowing what happened there, we can assume too much and read more tea leaves into this scene than necessary, including Hillary’s absence. It is also true that this is only one instant, a moment in time when the three were caught together in Pete Souza’s viewfinder. I did look back at the SoS appointment that day. That morning, she had bilateral meetings with Hamid Karzai then Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari. Afterwards she led the US-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Consultations II, in the Benjamin Franklin Room.

The larger photo is better, see it here.