10 rules for succeeding in Washington, ‘This Town’ style

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.”

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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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