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Book Notes

September 26, 2013

"This Town" examines D.C. corruption

I saw a recent poll where Congress has a public approval rating of 12 percent. That figure is shocking only because it should be closer to zero.

Let’s face it. The primary goal of an elected politician is to get re-elected. Actually accomplishing anything is secondary. It’s no surprise that Washington has become a cesspool of hypocrisy that defines polarization and self-promotion. If our so-called public servants really had a conscience why would they want to remain in such a convoluted torture chamber when they can’t get anything done?

We’ve had so many sexual and monetary scandals in Washington that it hardly raises an eyebrow anymore. Some politicians have managed to survive their bad behavior, and their persistence has encouraged other sleaze-balls to re-enter the fray. It’s almost impossible to write a sentence about politics these days without including the words “hypocrite” and “liar.”

If you’re sitting outside the Washington “bubble” and wondering how such an atmosphere could perpetuate itself, turning apparently well-meaning public servants into greedy egomaniacs, there is a new book that explains it all. “This Town,” by Mark Leibovich, describes what Washington is really like. Leibovich doesn’t reveal any illegal activities but underscores the idea that D.C. itself is one big scandal.

It goes far beyond elected representatives. The lobbyists and journalists are in cahoots with the politicians. They’re either members of “The Club” or trying to join it. It’s a name-dropping and “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” mentality. Journalists are constantly trying to rub elbows with the politicians and vice versa.  

Lobbyists are just a subset of the former, usually retired or defeated politicians who say they hate Washington but are willing to stay for the right price. They are considered valuable to special interests because they provide access to lawmakers.

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Book Notes
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