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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 16th, 2013
07:46 PM ET

Author: Book 'This Town' shows 'gilded age' and 'carnival' of Washington

Author Mark Leibovich covered politics for years, and is now the chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine.

Leibovich's  new book "This Town" describes Washington as a city that is "hopelessly interconnected," with "beautifully busy people constantly writing the story of their own lives."

Basically, Washington residents are really into themselves.

The book, out Tuesday, is getting a lot of attention in Washington, but  Leibovich says it should resonate with people outside of the beltway as well.

"Ultimately, I want people outside of Washington to know what the city that I think they fundamentally are disappointed in truly has come to," said Leibovich.

"The fact is it's a very, very gilded age in Washington right now. and I wanted to sort of flesh out what the full carnival has really looked like and what America is paying for," he said.

The book documents a lot of connections, people paying for connections, people trafficking on connections, and cashing in on those connections.

Leibovich said what bothers him the most about Washington these days, is that the level of outrage about how things are run has reached a low point.

"There's a level of you can say something and not really mean it and well, that's just the way the game is played in Washington," said Leibovich. "It's the non-outrage, the fact that we've come resigned to a certain way of doing business here."

"People just expect that when they people are running for Congress that they will run against Washington as a swamp, then they will get here and settle in like a warm bath," said Leibovich.

Then elected officials leave Congress, they will get a job as a lobbyist even though they had vowed they never would, says Leibovich.

The book describes President Barack Obama as someone who has a lot of  disdain for Washington, but as somebody who is completely part of the system, whose own insiders traffic in the same compromises, tossing the lobbying ban out the window. But he doesn't seem to be blamed for what all the aides around him are doing.

"The presidency exists on a plain that I could not even begin to understand. That's almost its own separate history," said Leibovich. "But ultimately there have been these series of never minds in this campaign and administration, whether it's ‘we're not going to opt out of the campaign finance system,’ they opt out of the campaign finance system; ‘We're not going to work with SuperPACs ,’ they worked with SuperPACs; ‘We're not going to let lobbyists into the White House and so forth."

"Eventually it wears you down," said Leibovich. "Ultimately a lot of the Washington insiders that got him elected but said they weren't of this world, have really settled in nicely."

Filed under: National Lead
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