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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Leibovich’

VAL 2016 | Mark Leibovich på The New York Times Magazine har kallat Donald Trump för en ”one-man chaos theory”.

The New York Times Magazine - 4 oktober 2015

Men hans kampanj är långt ifrån oprofessionell. Det han gör och säger är väl genomtänkt. Detta blev uppenbart för Leibovich när han följde Trump.

”He campaigns in poetry in much the same way a wild hog sips chardonnay”, skriver Leibovich.  Men osofistikerad är inte detsamma som oprofessionell.

‘I’ve had much more than 15 minutes of fame, that’s for sure,’’ he said. Trump can be hyper-­solicitous of the press. His orbit is largely free of handlers and is very much his own production, down to his tweets — which he types or dictates himself. I asked Trump if his campaign conducted focus groups. I knew what his answer would be but asked anyway. ‘‘I do focus groups,’’ he said, pressing both thumbs against his forehead, ‘‘right here.’’

Getting close to Trump is nothing like the teeth-­pulling exercise that it can be to get any meaningful exposure to a candidate like, say, Hillary Clinton. This is a seductive departure in general for political reporters accustomed to being ignored, patronized and offered sound bites to a point of lobotomy by typical politicians and the human straitjackets that surround them. In general, Trump understands and appreciates that reporters like to be given the time of day. It’s symbiotic in his case because he does in fact pay obsessive attention to what is said and written and tweeted about him. Trump is always saying that so-and-so TV pundit ‘‘spoke very nicely’’ about him on some morning show and that some other writer ‘‘who used to kill me’’ has now come around to ‘‘loving me.’’ There is a ‘‘Truman Show’’ aspect to this, except Trump is the director — continually selling, narrating and spinning his story while he lives it.

With me, Trump toggled often between on and off the record, one of which seemed only marginally more sensitive than the other, but with enough difference to indicate that he is capable of calculating from word to word and knowing where certain lines are.

[…]

I asked whether he had ever experienced self-doubt. The question seemed to catch Trump off guard, and he flashed a split second of, if not vulnerability, maybe non­swagger. ‘‘Yes, I think more than people would think,’’ he told me. When? ‘‘I don’t want to talk about it.’’ He shrug-­smirked. ‘‘Because, you know — probably more than people would think. I understand how life can go. Things can happen.’’ This was a rare moment when Trump’s voice trailed off, even slightly. He then handed me a sheet of new polling data that someone had put on his desk. ‘‘Beautiful numbers,’’ he said, inviting me to take them with me.

[…]

But while populism is often associated with grass-roots movements, Trump’s brand of it flows not from the ground up, as did Obama’s campaign in 2008 or even the Tea Party movement in subsequent years. Rather, Trump’s is pure media populism, a cult of personality whose following has been built over decades. The popularity of Trump’s NBC reality franchise, ‘‘The Apprentice,’’ for instance, made him a potent cultural persona; the power of that persona (the frowning, pitiless boss) might actually outweigh the customary strategic imperatives (message discipline, donor bases) that the political wiseguys like to get all aroused about. In large measure, the core of Trump’s phenomenon is his celebrity itself, which, in today’s America, is in fact as populist as it gets.

[…]

Trump makes no attempt to cloak his love of fame and, admirably, will not traffic in that tiresome politicians’ notion that his campaign is ‘‘not about me, it’s about you.’’ The ease with which Trump exhibits, and inhabits, his self-­regard is not only central to his ‘‘brand’’ but also highlights a kind of honesty about him. He can even seem hostile to any notion of himself as humble servant — that example of mod­esty that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln strove for.

The idea of a president as Everyman stands at odds with his glamorized vision for the nation. The president should be a man apart, exceptional and resplendent in every way. ‘‘Jimmy Carter used to get off Air Force One carrying his luggage,’’ Trump said. ‘‘I used to say, ‘I don’t want a president carrying his luggage.’ ’’ Carter was a nice man, Trump allowed. ‘‘But we want someone who is going to go out and kick ass and win.’’ Which apparently cannot be done by someone ‘‘who’s gonna come off carrying a large bag of underwear.’’

[…]

I observed to Trump that I had never encountered a candidate who talked so much to me about the latest polls. He knew precisely why that was. ‘‘That’s because they’re not leading,’’ he said. Trump signed off by saying that he hoped my article would be fair and added that there was no reason it shouldn’t be. ‘‘I’ve done nothing bad,’’ he told me. ‘‘What have I done bad?’’

How do you answer that question? Trump might be the single most self-­involved yet least introspective person I have ever met in my life, in or out of politics. I’m guessing he would say this is a good quality in a president. It spares him unglamorous dilemmas. But it’s unsettling to encounter a prospective leader whose persona is so conspicuous and well defined and yet whose core is so obtuse. The Obama political acolyte David Axelrod has likened campaigns to ‘‘an M.R.I. for the soul.’’ If that’s the case, maybe the most fascinating question for Trump is not where this all ends up, but what his expedition reveals about Donald Trump’s soul, if it reveals anything at all. ‘‘Some people think this will be good for my brand,’’ Trump concluded, as deep as he probes. ‘‘I think it’s irrelevant for my brand.’’

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 4 oktober 2015.

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USA | Ett säkert tecken på någon funderar på att ställa upp i presidentvalet är när de plötsligt börjar tillbringa mer tid i Iowa än nödvändigt.

The New York Times Magazine November 23  2014

Republikanen Chris Christie är en av dessa politiker. Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondentThe New York Times Magazine, har följt New Jerseys guvernör på något som liknar en gryende valkampanj.

“Am I willing to put up with what might happen if I win? frågar sig Christie vid ett tillfälle.  “Losing isn’t the problem,” blir svaret. “Winning is the problem.”

Här är ett utdrag från Leibovichs artikel:

There are, in the public’s imagination, two competing notions of Chris Christie. In the first, he is a cravenly ambitious Everyman, a restless former lawyer and local officeholder who, through his law partner, became a major fund-raiser for George W. Bush and was named his campaign lawyer for New Jersey. This led to Christie’s appointment as United States attorney for the state, a post that, thanks to scores of high-profile cases involving corrupt politicians, propelled him to an unlikely victory over the incumbent governor, Jon Corzine, in 2009. In this vision of Christie, his love of the media spotlight is nearly Kardashianesque.

[…]

In the other persona, Christie is a cartoonish bully and a classic embodiment of New Jersey’s brawny ethnic politics. The state’s best-known national politicians have tended to be sober cerebral people in the tradition of Bill Bradley, Tom Kean and even Woodrow Wilson, but Christie seems to better resemble his state’s pop-culture powder kegs instead: that is, the Tony Sopranos, the Snookis and the Cake Bosses. In this vision of his character, Christie is an oversize figure of little substance, one whom Richard Ford recently referred to as the “candied-yam of a governor.”

In person, Christie defies both of these caricatures. Obscured by the ambition, loose-cannon personality and, frankly, the girth, is the fact that he is an exceptionally gifted and nuanced politician. He has a preternatural talent for appearing blunt and insistent when he is being cute and obfuscating. He is also a savvy tactician. If Barack Obama were not a politician, you could imagine him being a law professor; Mitt Romney would be in business. If Christie were not a politician, he would be perfectly exhilarated to work as a political operative.

[…]

He speaks in the clipped shorthand of the campaign managers, lobbyists and political pros who operate in state and national capitals. There is a cynical expression you hear around Washington, especially in lobbying circles, that someone “gets the joke”: They know the purpose of every situation and they know the angles, they know what people are doing and trying to do and they know how to do all this without looking as if they’re doing it. At that first meeting, Christie did not agree to be interviewed, but neither did he seem displeased when I suggested that I would be following him around through the summer and fall. Christie absolutely gets the joke.

[…]

There is a theory in presidential politics that electorates will gravitate to the candidate who represents the biggest departure from the incumbent, especially if they have grown weary of that incumbent. “That’s the argument people make to me about why I should run,” Christie told me during one of our conversations. “They’re like: ‘No one could be more the opposite of Barack Obama from a personality standpoint than you. Therefore, you’re perfect.’ ” Yet one of the more compelling aspects of a Christie candidacy would be his ability to start an overdue fight within his own party.

[….]

“Christie’s strength is that people think he is being straight with them,” said Tom Kean, a former New Jersey governor and one of Christie’s political mentors. “If he kowtows to anyone, and people stop believing that he’s saying what he means, he’s going to kill the brand.”

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine, 23 november 2014.

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USA | Ännu har John McCain inte lagt av. Trots sin svidande förlust mot Barack Obama i presidentvalet har senatorn från Arizona fullt upp.

The New York Times Magazine 22 december 2013

McCain, 77 år och senatens nionde äldste medlem, ägnar numera mesta av sin arbetstid åt att kritisera presidenten för hans hantering av utrikespolitiken samt att försöka hindra att det egna partiet helt tas över av Tea Party-rörelsen.

Dessutom har McCain meddelat att han funderar på att ställa upp till återval 2016. (”I am very much considering it.”)

McCain är onekligen en av USA:s intressantaste politiker.

Han är dessutom en av få politiker som fortfarande vågar vara spontan och säga vad han tänker. (“They are lovely, gentle people [the Fijians] even though they used to eat each other.”)

Mark Leibovich, ”national correspondent” för The New York Times Magazine, har följt senatorn en tid för tidskriftens räkning:

John McCain is a cliché.

It is not his fault, or not entirely. Many of us become walking self-caricatures at a certain point, and politicians can be particularly vulnerable, especially those who have maneuvered their very public lives as conspicuously as McCain. They tell and retell the same stories; things get musty. They engage in a lot of self-mythologizing, and no one in Washington has been the subject and the perpetrator of more mythmaking than McCain: the maverick, the former maverick, the curmudgeon, the bridge builder, the war hero bent on transcending the call of self-interest to serve a cause greater than himself, the sore loser, old bull, last lion, loose cannon, happy warrior, elder statesman, lion in winter . . . you lose track of which McCain cliché is operational at a given moment. He does, too. “I think I was the brave maverick when I was taking on Bush,” McCain told me, “and then I was the bitter old man when I was criticizing Obamacare.”

Critics will take their shots, he says, it comes with being “in the arena.” That cliché isn’t McCain’s exclusively — it’s the self-consoling Teddy Roosevelt line that politicians are always trotting out. “It’s not the critic who counts” but “the man who really was in the arena.”

McCain has another favorite Teddy Roosevelt phrase, “the crowded hour,” which I have heard him invoke several times over the years. It comes from a poem by the English writer Thomas Mordaunt, and T. R. used it to famously describe his charge on San Juan Hill. In McCain’s philosophy, “the crowded hour” refers to a moment of character testing. “The ‘crowded hour’ is as appropriate for me right now as any in a long time,” McCain told me as we walked through the Capitol. In some respects, this is just a function of public figures’ tendency to overdramatize the current moment and their role in it. But five years after losing to Barack Obama, after enduring the recriminations between his splintered campaign staff and rogue running mate, Sarah Palin, and after returning to the Senate and falling into a prolonged funk, McCain finds himself in the midst of another crowded hour, maybe his last as an elected leader.

Along with his Senate Tonto, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, McCain has been the most ardent critic of the White House’s foreign policy in pretty much every hot spot in the world.

[…]

McCain also finds himself in the thick of the latest “fight for the soul of the G.O.P.” against the Tea Party right, a cohort that arguably would not have the influence it has if McCain had not chosen Palin as his running mate. They are represented in the Senate by McCain’s junior colleagues Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky — or “wacko birds” as McCain has referred to their far-right ilk.

[…]

McCain is sick of talking about Cruz. “We have a cordial relationship,” he insists, which in the Google translation of political code is something between abject disgust and minimal tolerance. Cruz is an upstart, whose goal seems to be to position himself to run for president in 2016. He appears indifferent to the traditional markers of Senate experience and prestige — passing bills, leading committees, dutifully winning the respect of colleagues. “You know, it’s a funny thing about Cruz,” McCain says, and then stops himself. “No, actually, it’s not funny. It aggravates me more than anything else” — the way Cruz called his fellow Republicans a bunch of wimps and talks about “how we’ve been around too long.” Cruz is the Senate’s modern-day maverick, it would seem, while McCain has become one of the institution’s fiercest traditionalists.

[…]

To pass the time on the drive back, I engage McCain in a game of hypothetical-question roulette: If he were a young man living in Arizona today, not a politician, would he register to vote as an Independent? “I would think about it,” he says, but then catches himself and reasserts his faith in “the party of Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.” Would he consider supporting an Independent presidential candidate if Ted Cruz were the Republican nominee? “No, because I have to respect the process.” Would he support his friend Hillary Clinton in a head to head against Cruz? “I will support the Republican ticket,” he says, then adds: “With all due respect, that is a foolish question, my friend.”

Läs mer: “Behind the Cover Story: Mark Leibovich on Checking In With John McCain” av Rachel Nolan på bloggen The 6th Floor.

Tidskriftsomslag. The New York Times Magazine den 22 december 2013.

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USA |  När Mark Leibovich, The New York Times Magazine, släppte boken This Town slog den ner som en bomb i Washington.

The New York Times Magazine 7 juli 2013

Åtminstone slog den ner som en bomb hos den lilla del av befolkningen som kallar sig politiker och den del av media vars jobb det är att bevaka dessa politiker.

Bilden som Leibovich målar upp var inte speciellt smickrande för någon av personerna som beskrevs.

Mest förödande var det naturligtvis för den del av media vars uppgift det är att objektivt bevaka och granska politiken.

Denna objektivitet kan man naturligtvis ifrågasätta med tanke på det smått incestuösa förhållandet mellan media och politiker.

Leibovich, ”chief national correspondent” på tidskriften, har bearbetat This Town i artikeln ”How to Win in Washington”.

I artikeln följer han en av dessa politiska “operatives” som lever i nära symbios med media.

Kurt Bardella is not a guy you can easily root for. He activates your radar and not in a good way. He laughs too much and too loud. He hangs out in cigar bars. When he talks with you, you suspect you are being worked.

I liked him instantly.

By that I mean Bardella gave me a headache, but I liked that he flouted the norms of the smooth Washington hustler. In a city where even the most rabid striving must be cloaked in nonchalance, Bardella never pulled this off or even tried. He was not shy about sharing — on his Facebook page — his ultimate ambition: to become the White House press secretary. He was not reticent in acknowledging a danger of his brash style: “I’m never that far away from blowing myself up completely,” he told me once. “It’s all part and parcel of my inferiority complex.” But generally, Bardella added, he was pretty good about channeling his demons in a way that benefited his boss, Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California.

Bardella evinced a desperation that made him more honest than people in Washington typically are. Or maybe “transparent” is a better word, because he did seem to lie sometimes (or “spin” sometimes), at least to me. Even as he stuck out among earnest Hill deputies, something about Bardella wonderfully embodied the place. It’s not that Washington hasn’t forever been populated by high-reaching fireballs. But an economic and information boom in recent years has transformed the city in ways that go well beyond the standard profile of dysfunction. To say that today’s Washington is too partisan and out of touch is to miss a much more important truth — that rather than being hopelessly divided, it is hopelessly interconnected. It misses the degree to which New Media has both democratized the political conversation and accentuated Washington’s myopic, self-loving tendencies. And it misses, most of all, how an operator like Kurt Bardella can land in a culture of beautifully busy people and, by trading on all the self-interest and egomania that knows no political affiliation, rewrite the story of his own life.

[…]

Bardella was never going to be one of those civic-minded idealists who descend on the capital every year to “make a difference.” When I first met him, he admitted that he was not much of a true believer in any political cause. The Republicans simply found him first. He told me that he was not so much an “R” or a “D” as he was an “O” — “an opportunist.” His passions were ignited less by an inspirational candidate or officeholder — there were no posters of Ronald Reagan or J.F.K. — than they were by celebrity operatives on TV, fictional (Josh Lyman) or real (James Carville). They were the players in a thrilling screen game, and Bardella wanted in.

“When I first came here,” he told me, “I was standing on the streetcorner with my suitcase, thinking: There’s no way I belong here. This is crazy. I’m going to get eaten alive.”

As a teenager, Bardella read the memoir of the celebrated Clinton aide turned TV star, George Stephanopoulos, “All Too Human: A Political Education.” What struck Bardella was Stephanopoulos’s description of his years as an altar boy in the Greek Orthodox church he attended in Rye, N.Y. It excited him, Stephanopoulos wrote, to be within the sanctum, an excitement he compared with the thrill he felt later as a political operative who penetrated the privileged circle where decisions are made.

“There is that place to get in Washington that everybody is striving for,” Bardella told me. “Once you get to that place, that inside place, you kind of just know it. It’s exciting,” he said. “But you’re never sure if that feeling is going to last, or if other people are seeing you as someone on the inside. It puts you on edge, constantly.”

Läs mer: “Issa and His Aide” av Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker och “The Stench of the Potomac av Frank Rich, New York.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 7 juli 2013.

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ANALYS | Som det ser ut just nu vinner Barack Obama valet. Frågan är bara hur stor segermarginalen blir.

Oavsett vilket kommer segern att få stora konsekvenser för republikanerna.

Vilken ideologisk väg partiet borde välja har varit en het potatis åtminstone ända sedan John McCain valdes till partiets presidentkandidat.

En (av många) anledningar till Obamas stora seger 2008 var att republikanernas kärnväljare såg McCain som en typisk ”RINO”, d.v.s. ”Republican In Name Only”.

En RINO är en karriärpolitiker som anses har förstört både partiet och landets ekonomi genom att anpassa sig till den liberala politiska agendan i Washington.

Någon större entusiasm kring kampanjen blev det därför inte förrän McCain utsåg Sarah Palin till sin vicepresidentkandidat. Palin var också Tea Party-rörelsens favorit.

Efter McCains valförlust blev det Mitt Romneys tur. Och många såg även hans nominering som ett tecken på att det liberala partietablissemangets återigen hade fått den kandidat man önskade sig.

Detta i kontrast till gräsrötternas önskan om att få se en genuint konservativ kandidat som skulle våga tala sanning om behovet av att rensa upp i både Washington och i det egna partiet.

Precis som med McCain var det först när Romney utsåg sin vicepresidentkandidat som man kunde börja ana ett ökat intresse bland de republikanska väljarna.

Paul Ryan har lyckats inspirera kärnväljarna mer än Romney lyckats med. Även Romney själv har framstått som mer entusiastisk när Ryan har stått vid hans sida.

Att Ryan är de konservativas favorit går inte att ta miste på.

Ett stående inslag när han kampanjar är att framhäva att dagens ekonomiska kris är resultatet av år av misskötsel från både demokrater och republikaner i Washington. Detta genererar alltid applådera från publiken.

En valförlust innebär slutet för Romneys politiska karriär. För Ryan däremot kan det vara början på hans försök att erövra partiets presidentnominering.

Mark Leibovich skriver i The New York Times Magazine:

To many, Paul Ryan was a key figure — if not the key figure — in that future. In fact, his selection as running mate instantly mollified two basic insecurities that had been nagging at the conservative establishment for some time: one was that their standard-bearer, Romney, was a closet moderate who could not win over the hard-core “movement conservatives”; the other was that the fervor that animated the Tea Party movement had acquired a dangerously anti-intellectual strain, embodied by the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. When I asked Ryan if today’s Republican Party was more “idea based” than it was two years ago, he squinted his intense eyes, nodded hard and said yes. I then asked his opinion of the more, let’s say, knowledge-averse bent of some conservative populism, mentioning Palin and Bachmann while understanding that he obviously couldn’t outwardly offend them or their supporters. “I have my poker face on,” Ryan said before letting slip with a tight grin.

In the midst of Romney’s deliberations, Ryan was the clear running mate of choice among the right-wing commentariat. (“The Republican Party’s intellectual leader,” wrote The Weekly Standard’s Stephen F. Hayes and William Kristol, who is partly credited with “discovering” Palin during a cruise to Alaska hosted by the magazine in 2007.) Ryan was considered a long shot among several contenders — he was too young, too conservative and too potentially offensive to older voters because of his plan to overhaul Medicare. Another knock was that he was too cerebral, or “wonkish,” to win broad appeal in a general election. This is one of those backhanded criticisms that in fact flatter. He was “too smart,” “too substantive,” in other words, for the sound-bite shorthand of the campaign trail.

[…]

Ryan is gifted at shrouding a cutthroat ambition in sheepish nonchalance. It is a key political skill — trying constantly to impress without looking as if you’re trying — and one that has eluded many politicians past and present. He is also deft at conveying precision and specificity without being the least bit precise or specific. He has honed his image carefully and promotes it relentlessly on the stump. In late September, Ryan introduced a slide-show demonstration to his appearances. “I’m sort of a PowerPoint guy, so bear with me,” he said the first time he did this, in Orlando, Fla., by way of apologizing for his apparent inability to communicate without his security blanket. Though his PowerPoint presentation is an extremely basic four-slide tutorial that shows how much the national debt has risen since World War II — something that many fifth graders could grasp — his home crowds invariably nod and praise him for his faith in their ability to grasp hard truths.

[…]

If Romney loses, the recriminations play out in two predictable ways among Republicans. Some will say that the party must attract a broader base of support among independent and moderate and nonwhite voters, which would argue for the less severely conservative tone that Romney adopted right after his first debate. They might even point to the presence of Ryan on the ticket as, ultimately, a negative, that his selection did nothing to move national polls in favor of Romney and possibly even scared off potential voters.

But a far more vocal — and probably bigger — group on the right will maintain that the ticket was not conservative enough. They will insist that Republicans need to stop nominating the next establishment guy in line. They will say Mitt Romney ran a lousy general election campaign, except for his finest act, the elevation of Paul Ryan, who was a very good Boy Scout and who waited his turn.

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget är The New York Times Magazine den 21 oktober 2012.

(Inlägget publiceras även på Makthavare.se.)

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POLITIK: Vem är Washingtons mest tongivande journalist? Enligt reportern Mark Leibovich på The New York Times är svaret Mike Allen.

”Before he goes to sleep, between 11 and midnight, Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, typically checks in by e-mail with the same reporter: Mike Allen of Politico, who is also the first reporter Pfeiffer corresponds with after he wakes up at 4:20.”

Allens nyhetsbrev PlaybookPolitico verkar läsas av alla i maktens korridorer i Washington, inklusive i Vita huset.

Allen’s e-mail tipsheet, Playbook, has become the principal early-morning document for an elite set of political and news-media thrivers and strivers. Playbook is an insider’s hodgepodge of predawn news, talking-point previews, scooplets, birthday greetings to people you’ve never heard of, random sightings (“spotted”) around town and inside jokes. (…)

Cable bookers, reporters and editors read Playbook obsessively, and it’s easy to pinpoint exactly how an item can spark copycat coverage that can drive a story. Items become segment pieces on “Morning Joe,” the MSNBC program, where there are 10 Politico Playbook segments each week, more than half of them featuring Allen. This incites other cable hits, many featuring Politico reporters, who collectively appear on television about 125 times a week. There are subsequent links to Politico stories on The Drudge Report, The Huffington Post and other Web aggregators that newspaper assigning editors and network news producers check regularly. “Washington narratives and impressions are no longer shaped by the grand pronouncements of big news organizations,” said Allen, a former reporter for three of them — The Washington Post, The New York Times and Time magazine. “The smartest people in politics give us the kindling, and we light the fire.” (…)

Nowhere is Washington’s ambivalence over Politico more evident than in the White House. The Obama and Politico enterprises have had parallel ascendancies to an extent: they fashioned themselves as tech-savvy upstarts bent on changing the established order — of politics (Obama) and of how it is covered (Politico). They started around the same time, early 2007, and their clashing agendas were apparent early. On the day that Politico published its first print edition, Barack Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, walked into the campaign’s offices and slammed a copy of the new publication on Dan Pfeiffer’s keyboard. “This,” Plouffe declared, “is going to be a problem.”

Politico today remains a White House shorthand for everything the administration claims to dislike about Washington — Beltway myopia, politics as daily sport. Yet most of the president’s top aides are as steeped in this culture as anyone else — and work hard to manipulate it. “What’s notable about this administration is how ostentatiously its people proclaim to be uninterested in things they are plainly interested in,” [John F.] Harris, Politico’s editor in chief, told me in an e-mail message.

That Politico has been so vilified inside the White House is itself a sign of its entry into “the bloodstream” (another Politico phrase). It is, White House officials say, an indictment of the “Washington mentality” that the city is sustaining Politico and letting it “drive the conversation” to the extent it does. (…)

Allen sends out Playbook using Microsoft Outlook to a private mailing list of 3,000. A few minutes later, an automatic blast goes out to another 25,000 readers who signed up to receive it. An additional 3,000 or so enter Playbook from Politico.com, which adds up to a rough universe of 30,000 interested drivers, passengers and eavesdroppers to the conversation.

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