A hefty political diagnostic that yields myriad revelations about the true power centers in D.C., by the chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times, author of The Russians (1976). Smith shows how, over the past two decades, the power game has undergone a revolution. Like the information explosion, power has burst out of its old, elitist confines of powerful Senate and House committee chairmen, accessible presidents, and influential journalists--and now resides with a phalanx of unknown congressional staffers, lobbyists and fund-raisers working behind the scenes, and White House idea-men. In the section entitled ""The Nature of Power,"" Smith describes some of the new trends in Washington: e.g., ""porcupine power,"" the prickly style of such figures as Jesse Helms, whose major focus is on obstructionism; the ""power loop,"" or the tendency of those in positions of strength to narrow access and of those losing the power game to widen the circle. In ""The Players and the Playing Field,"" Smith shows us just who is running things these days: how it is that Pentagon gadflies like Denny Smith or William Proxmire always come from states with little Pentagon business; the five pillars of incumbency (video feeds, computer mail, caseworking, publicized presence back home, and money). In ""The Big Games of Power,"" we get an inside view into such games as ""damage control"" (using Reagan's Bitburg visit as an example), and producing the ""video presidency."" Smith offers a few suggestions to cure the excesses of presidents and the fragmentation of power--including synchronizing congressional terms, giving pros more power in political decision-making, strengthening parties, and offering ""television subsidies"" for candidates to take away the great incumbency advantage. An invaluable work for students, politicians, bureaucrats, armchair politicians--and, especially, an eye-opener for voters.