Tim Russert is dead. But the room was alive.
You can’t work it too hard at a memorial service, obviously. It’s the kind of thing people notice. But the big-ticket Washington departure rite can be such a great networking opportunity. You can almost feel the ardor behind the solemn faces: lucky stampedes of power mourners, about two thousand of them, wearing out the red-carpeted aisles of the Kennedy Center.
Before the service, people keep rushing down the left-hand aisle to get to Robert Gibbs, the journeyman campaign spokesman who struck gold with the right patron, Barack Obama, soon to be the first African-American nominee of a major party. If Obama gets elected, Gibbs is in line to be the White House press secretary. Gibbs is the son of librarians, two of the 10 percent of white Alabamans who will support Obama in November. Bobby,” as he was known back home, hated to read as a child and grew up to be a talker, now an increasingly hot one.
He keeps getting approached in airports and on the street for his autograph. He is a destination for a populace trained to view human interaction through the prism of How can this person be helpful to me?” Gibbs has become potentially whoppingly helpful. People seek out and congratulate him for his success and that of his candidate, especially at tribal gatherings like this, a grand send-off for the host of Meet the Press.
Next to Gibbs presides another beneficial destination: David Axelrod, a Democratic media consultant and kibitzing walrus of a mensch who orchestrated Obama’s run to the 2008 Democratic nomination. Known as Axe,” Axelrod is a sentimental RFK Democrat whose swoon over Obama is unrivaled even by Gibbs’s. (Gibbs once called Axe the guy who walks in front of Obama with rose petals.”) Noting the big run on Gibbs and Axelrod, a columnist for Politico told me they were the new it guys” at the service, and of course they were, in part for devising a communications strategy predicated on indifference to this very onrushing club of D.C.’s Leading Thinkers.
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are mobbed as well; they can barely get to their seats: assaulted with kudos for the success of Morning Joe, their dawn roundtable on MSNBC and a popular artery in the bloodstream of the Leading Thinkers. People keep pressing business cards into the cohosts’ palms, eager to get themselves booked, or their clients booked, or their books mentioned, just once, by Joe or Mika. A new low, even for Washington tackiness,” Mika will lament of the funereal hustle. But it’s important to be part of the conversation, anyone would understand. You seize your momentwhen it comes.
Bill and Hillary Clinton walk stiffly down the left aisle. Heads lurch and the collective effects are unmistakable: that exotic D.C. tingle falls over the room, the kind that comes with proximity to Superpowers. Bill and Hill. They are given wide berth. It had been a tough stretch. Hillary has just conceded the Democratic nomination. It ended an epic primary saga in which Bill had disgraced
"This Town is funny, it's interesting, and it is demoralizing ... I loved it as much as you can love something which hurts your heart."—John Oliver, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
“In addition to his reporting talents, Leibovich is a writer of excellent zest. At times his book is laugh-out-loud (as well as weep-out-loud). He is an exuberant writer, even as his reporting leaves one reaching for Xanax…[This Town] is vastly entertaining and deeply troubling.”—Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review
"It's been the summer of This Town. What lingers from This Town is what will linger in Washington well after its current dinosaurs are extinct: the political culture owned by big money."—Frank Rich, New York Magazine
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“In his new book This Town, Mark Leibovich commits an act of treason against the Washington establishment… Thoroughly entertaining… Leibovich is a keen observer and energetic writer.”—Reid Pillifant, New York Observer
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“Leibovich delivers the reportorial goods. He is in all the parties, and supplies a wildly entertaining anthrolopogical tour.”—Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
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“[Leibovich] is a master of the political profile… This Town is as insidery as Game Change”—Carlos Lozada, Washington Post
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“Witty, entertaining….the book is enlightening on how journalism is practiced in Washington…This Town could also be source material for your book about what’s wrong with these horrible people and – more importantly, but also much more difficult – how to fix the cu