The new book about Washington DC by Mark Leibovich has familiar themes: huge egos, lust for power, greed, and betrayal. But the reporting is great and the writing full of zest. In This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral -- Plus Plenty of Valet Parking! -- in America's Gilded Capital, the Washington-based journalist describes four major shifts that have taken place over the last 40 years. The first big change is lobbying. President Obama's first year in office was a great year for the special interests industry, which earned $3.47 billion lobbying the federal government. In 1974, 3 percent of retiring members of Congress became lobbyists and today 50 percent of senators and 42 percent of congressmen do. The other major change taking place alongside lobbying is the arrival of big money in Washington. ''Over the last dozen years,'' Leibovich writes, ''corporate America has tripled the amount of money it has spent on lobbying and public affairs consulting in D.C.” Lobbying and money have given rise to the third development: political consultants' new celebrity status. The fourth change is the rise of cable television and the 24/7 news cycle, as well as Facebook, Twitter and the rest of social media, which have provided all these people with unimaginable influence. If you would rather enjoy a film version of This Town, place a hold on A House of Cards.
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