This Town

Author: Mark Leibovich

“This Town”, by Mark Leibovich, is a difficult book to recommend to readers. Not that it is not well written and not that its content is not very important in understanding the causes of dysfunction in our political system, but because the content is so repulsive.

Perhaps the best way to explain this conundrum is to quote Mr. Leibovich from the books’ afterword:

“The biggest surprise I encountered in promoting This Town was also the biggest source of hope….Not only did a lot of people care enough to read it but they also cared enough to be outraged by it—-delightfully so, I would like to think, but still outraged.…Actual readers of the book got the point that the systematic dysfunction of Washington has in fact sustained a vast, decadent, and self-obsessed political class. What shocked me was that no one bothered to come to the defense of the world I had described, or disputed that it existed to this embarrassing degree.”

If Mr. Leibovich is correct, and as he suggests I have no basis to dispute his story, there is little wonder our political system gets nothing done. While reading “This Town” I could not help but run a mental comparison with “The Last Great Senate”. In just thirty-some years, our political system appears to have morphed from a society of statesmen and leaders to an incestuous society of narcissistic followers.

The biographical vignettes in “The Last Great Senate” describe men who clearly placed country above self to produce results they perceived to be best for the country. To the contrary, the equivalent descriptive passages in “This Town” paint a picture of self-absorbed characters solely focused on perpetuating power and status to the exclusion of the voters they are hired to represent.

Should you chose to read “This Town”, let us know your reaction and, most importantly, let us know what you think can and should be done to disrupt this deplorable paradigm.

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