House of Cards Descends into Partisan Politics

Everybody blames the Tea Party Episode 3 Chapter 16 of House of Cards

Apparently the Democrats, as defined by Hollywood, are the party who will accept reality and offer, generously to the Republicans, retirement age hikes.  The new twist in this Hollywood game is that the Senate Majority leader is also reasonable, and for bonus points, Hispanic, thus making Republicans also reasonable partners.  Now what is stopping the logical pragmatic historic deal on entitlements…?

That’s right, new enemy number one: The Tea Party!  How annoying must the Tea Party be that even Hollywood will work to make Republicans look reasonable in comparison.

Senator Curtis Haas serves as the Tea Party Senator for this heavy-handed government shutdown redux by Hollywood.  After being offered real entitlement reform by the Democrats he retorts:  “It’s not as progressive as I’d like” to which the Democratic Senate Leadership replies, “You mean radical.” He continues “Are we really going to allow the Tea Party to determine fiscal legislation?” And of course this:

“You wouldn’t have won re-election if their PACs hadn’t dumped 10 million into your campaign”

By the way, in this fantasy world, this is the deal being offered by the Democrats:

“68/64 phased in 5 years with spending cuts as discussed” – Frank Underwood.

Also, you just had a Tea Party Senator refer to a plan as “not progressive enough”.

I thought the best rebuttal to the illogic of this story line was on Twitter:

Has anyone asked Heritage how they would score the vote in episode three of House of Cards S2? I bet they'd go for it.

— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) February 17, 2014

So according to this fairy tale, it’s been the Tea Party the whole time who has prevented DC from dealing with entitlements.  Well that and a murderous Democrat Vice-President, but who’s keeping track?

Then, Frank is so kind to spend time meeting with just the Republicans, including Curtis the Tea Partier, to solidify the deal.  No shades of “I won” here from this fantasy set of Democrats.

Curtis details his reasons for not playing ball:  “The Democrats get another win, you dismantle the agreement”. Frank then “reasonably” sweetens the deal by offering a magical “No changes” provision for 10 years as a counter.  To this, the Tea Party senator’s response is “Maybe the country needs to see what disaster looks like.”

So there you have it. The Tea Party has no point in governance other than a desire to cause pain.

Frank’s advice is as follows: “The Tea Party is a strong voice, and you’re its bullhorn, show your people that voice can translate into law and not just add to the noise.”- Frank Underwood.

“15 years before revisitation, not ten, and if the House fails to pass the bill, you go on record blaming your own party for the gridlock.” – Senator Curtis Haas

This deal falls apart because Curtis gets cold feet and defaults to making no deal, thereby choosing pain as being preferential.  Frank reassembles the numbers through use of the oldest trick in the book — handing out earmarks to enough Republicans to get the vote.  At this point even the Senate Majority leader takes umbrage with having his authority usurped or fears defying the Tea Party caucus, so it’s up to Frank to use his power as VP to utilize an obscure procedure to force a quorum and get his vote. Basically, Frank needs to save the Republicans and the Senate from the tea party.

“This is a perfect way to show Curtis who’s in charge, I’m doing you a favor Hector” – Frank Underwood

So in the end the Tea Party Senator was only focused on two things: enforcing pain for the American people or settling for blame of the other party.

The Democrat President summarizes this political victory thusly: “We will continue the business of serving our country instead of paralyzing it.”

Question: Does Frank Underwood’s characterization of the Tea Party have some merit?

It’s an important question to answer because like it or not popular culture is a powerful force in defining people’s point of view.

It likely does not help when the real Republican Majority Whip gets quoted like this:

“McCarthy, who was really very generous to me — I sort of shadowed him in the Capitol a little bit, to understand and learn what it’s actually like to be the majority whip — but he actually said recently, ‘You know, if I could just kill one member of Congress, I’d never have to worry about another vote.’”

I’ll of course continue to watch House of Cards, but would submit that if they like other shows end up prioritizing Democrat messaging goals over good drama, it’s likely their show will not be as successful.  If you are going to try to make a statement using art, why not do one based on accuracy. Quite frankly the only people in DC pushing for fiscal responsibility (its entire founding was based on fiscal issues) was and is the Tea Party.

You could take this another way of course. Being hated by Frank Underwood in the end is a good thing considering the make of his character.  It depends if the implicit fascination with this show isn’t Frank’s ruthless efficiency, as admired by our own POTUS, but his inability to look away at how power is abused.  As Spacey noted during a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos, House of Cards is like the “antithesis of what ‘The West Wing’ was referring to in Aaron Sorkin’s liberal fantasy of political life.”  Could it be that this is the left’s ID at work while the West Wing was their Super Ego?

In the end at least, Hollywood seems to have found something they dislike more than Republicans.