In a sharp review of Mark Leibovich's “This Town” in today’s WSJ, Andrew Ferguson paints a picture of the realities of how Washington, D.C. works that few inside the Beltway would readily admit:
No, Washington is unique because its human pageant is played out entirely on someone else's dime. Mr. Leibovich isn't the first professional observer to notice that Washington's economy is from top to bottom parasitic, but he is one of the first not to be especially bothered by it. The money that Suck-Up City sucks up is wealth created by the productive labor of faraway citizens who send it to the capital under penalty of law, according to whatever pretenses the political class can get away with, and that is then passed around as transaction fees. Moneymaking Washington-style is a many-layered version of the ditch digger who shovels across your front yard and then demands you pay him to fill up the hole. Though always a derivative enterprise, journalism might be expected to stand as at least a partial check on the unappetizing spectacle. Instead, in Washington, journalism is the most dubious trade of all—leeches fastened upon leeches.