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The Money Men: The Real Story of Fund-Raising's Influence on Political Power in America

Birnbaum, Jeffrey H.

9 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 081293119X / ISBN 13: 9780812931198
Published by Crown Publishers, New York, 2000
Condition: fair to good, very good
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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25 cm, 287, index, ink/marker notations and underlining on several pages. Inscribed by the author to "Morton" (Kondracke). Bookseller Inventory # 54630

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Money Men: The Real Story of ...

Publisher: Crown Publishers, New York

Publication Date: 2000

Book Condition: fair to good, very good

Edition: First Edition. First Printing.

About this title

Synopsis:

The real political campaigns in America begin with the money men.

If you assume that fund-raising is so distasteful that you don't want to hear any more about it, you are closing your mind to one of the most fundamental and fascinating stories in American politics, writes Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, author of The Money Men. For the past two decades, Birnbaum has followed the money in Washington, as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Time, and Fortune. In his Washington Post bestsellers, Showdown at Gucci Gulch and The Lobbyists, Birnbaum examined the forces that wield power in our capital and the subtle yet influential interplay between pressure groups and politicians. Now, Birnbaum takes us inside the world of the most elite, powerful, and little-known groups in politics: the fund-raisers and fund-givers who have an increasingly large say in the way our government works.

If you want to be taken seriously as a political candidate in America, you've got to start with money and the people who raise it. Until now, no one has taken as close a look at who these people are, what they want, and what they get in return for raising hundreds of millions of dollars. In The Money Men, Birnbaum takes us behind the scenes and into the mansions, banquet halls, and living rooms of the people raising the big bucks for presidential aspirants in Campaign 2000. He details the ritual mating dance of money that is rarely seen and is captivating to behold. Birnbaum also reveals which lobbying organizations are the most effective in advancing their agendas and how they do it.

For anyone interested in the state of democracy, the possibility for reform, and the strange art of political salesmanship, The Money Men is required reading.

Review:

Jeffrey Birnbaum subscribes to that old journalistic credo Follow the money. He has made a career out of investigating the role of money in politics, both as a beat reporter (first for The Wall Street Journal, and now at Fortune) and as an author (The Lobbyists). This book describes the men and women who give money to politicians and raise it for campaigns. Far from a dry tome about campaign-finance law, it's a page-turning narrative full of colorful characters and interesting anecdotes. As a D.C. insider once put it, the real scandal in Washington isn't what's illegal, but what's legal. Or, in Birnbaum's words:

If you assume that campaign money is so distasteful that you don't want to hear any more about it, you're closing your mind to one of the most fundamental and most fascinating stories in American politics. It's okay to be outraged--more than okay. But it's wrong to be so disgusted that you don't want to read another word. You miss all the good parts that way.

Birnbaum intends to correct a few popular misconceptions about how Washington works: "It's wrong to think of [elected officials] sitting studiously through boring congressional hearings or making speeches to Rotary Club luncheons. Think of them, instead, in windowless offices grubbing for money almost every spare moment they get." Some may accuse the author of being unduly suspicious of money's place in political life, but then they haven't had what Birnbaum calls "The Moment"--"that instant when they finally realize that money plays too big a role in politics, way too big." He then describes how one of his sources, a press secretary for a Southern congressman, had his Moment: "The congressman pledged to vote to fund the aircraft in exchange for a VIP tour of the White House for twenty or thirty of his largest and most loyal campaign contributors."

The Money Men is crammed with unseemly stories like this, and Birnbaum is admirably bipartisan: he blames both Democrats and Republicans for creating the cesspool in which they live. "Something must be done," he writes.

Scandal after scandal has rocked the nation's capital. From overnights in the Lincoln bedroom to illegal foreign contributions from Asia and elsewhere, it is obvious that what was once a hunger for money by politicians has become a form of gluttony. Corporations, labor unions, narrow interest groups, and wealthy individuals are buying their way into our government at a pace that threatens to destroy the democracy that we all hold so dear.
Fans of Common Cause and John McCain's campaign-reform ideas will find much to admire on these pages, as will anyone who appreciates good reportage. --John J. Miller

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