And he is, by all accounts, a great guy. Yes, yes, Leibovich is part of the very "problem" he purports to unearth. He appears on cable, goes to parties with shallow people, forgets and drops names, etc, etc. My bigger issue is that this town - my town - is also filled with incredibly dedicated people doing incredibly important things. We are human, and many of us are self-important, and some are total jackasses. But for the most part, the ecosystem of this book is populated by very smart, very hard-working people who are in this business for the right reasons - they want to change the country for what they view as the better.

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These chapters are mini-masterpieces of politico-anthropological sociology. Both occasions were yes, of course sad, both men having been cut down in their prime or near prime. They were about people left behind to scrape their way up the pecking order in his absence. As a personality, Holbrooke was your proverbial larger-than-life dynamo. But dynamos are exhausting, and Obama had reached his exhaustion point early on, after which he seemed to take perverse enjoyment in undercutting and humiliating his special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Enter trumpets, fanfare former President Clinton, who uses his eulogy slot to plunge a stealth dagger into the man who defeated his wife in This makes for spectator sport of the very highest order, and the craftiest bit of eulogy jujitsu since Mark Antony took to the rostrum in 44 B. Obama does not. Pass the salt, would you? We heard rather a lot about all that in So, has Washington changed? Chris Gash The answer, according to Leibovich, the chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, is: yes, actually, it has, but not in ways that benefit the Republic that the founders bequeathed us and that we squander so promiscuously.

At times, this book is laugh-out-loud as well as weep-out-loud. He is an exuberant writer, even as his reporting leaves one reaching for the Xanax. As for those four big changes: Lobbying. Ka-ching — your change, sir. Cincinnatus, call your office. Christopher Dodd, late of Connecticut, is another beauty. I know — good luck with that. The other major change took place pari passu with lobbying: the arrival of big money in Washington.

All of which has given rise to another unlovely development: political consultants and their concomitant celebrity. This breed has, Leibovich says, essentially replaced the old-style political bosses. One might ask: is it a bad thing that we now have the omnipresent James Carville and Mary Matalin and their ilk?

Honestly, James and Mary. Is this a great country or what? Or start an e-mail newsletter, Web site or, later, blog, Facebook page or Twitter following — in other words, become Famous for Washington. They gather, all the brands, at. Or just away. But then what would we do for entertainment, being left with a mere Parliament of Bores?


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