July 12, 2013

Scattered throughout “This Town,” the new book on power and pettiness in the nation’s capital by New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich, readers can find a series of tips for making it in Washington, based on the author’s observations of politicians and lobbyists, congressional staffers and journalists, party hacks and party-throwers. Here are the 10 best:

1. Professional ambiguity: “You know you’ve made it in D.C. when someone says . . . ‘It isn’t clear what he does’ . . . about you.”

2. Fair warning: “Nothing is more important in Washington than giving or getting a ‘heads-up,’ the better to avoid the intolerable humiliation of being surprised or blindsided by some piece of information.”

3. Humblebragging:“While a focused and surgical ambition is vital to success in D.C., the ability to be appropriately sheepish about it is more so.”

4. Rainmaking: “You can be the most detestable person in the world . . . but you would still be assured of having thousands of elegant friends by being a good fund-raiser.”

5. The Haley Barbour rule: “He told one friend that his main goal was to get paid by as many people as possible for doing as little work as possible.”

6. Not from here: “Refashion [yourself] as a Washington outsider type . . . a smart political strategy in this day and age.”

7. Make sure they see you pray: “Public faith does tend to be the first step in any Washington rehab.”

8. Feigned indifference, a.k.a. the Hillary 2016 rule: “There’s no better point of seduction in politics than being reluctant, or acting it.”

9. The Gore Vidal rules: “Vidal also produced two of my favorite This Town-applicable statements ever. . . . ‘Never turn down an opportunity for sex or being on TV’. . . . ‘Success is not enough. One’s friends must fail.’ ”

10. The City beats This Town: “It always helps . . . to be based in or around New York.”

Carlos Lozada, Outlook editor

Read more from Outlook:

Review of Mark Leibovich’s ‘This Town’

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