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Bland Obomination

Review of House of Cards - Season 2

Frank: Good Morning Jackie
Jackie: Richard Russell?
Frank: Civil Rights Act 1963.
Jackie: Not everyone can be on the right side of history.
Frank: Not even Lyndon for a time but he would have never become majority leader without him.
Jackie: Well there's no Johnson Senate building.
Frank: No, he had to settle for a Presidential Library

I'm thinking, "is this what these frigg'n Democrat scum actually say to each other behind closed doors on Capital Hill?" I mean, I don't know, I've never sat in on these meetings, but Beau Willimon has and I assume he's writing from experience. Yes, a photo of Richard Russell on the receiving end of one of those infamous LBJ harangues the bumpkin from Texas was so fond of administering to his "subordinates". "Right side of history?" - I know they talk like this to the public, but do they actually say this stuff to each other in serious tones when they're behind closed doors? LBJ did become majority leader because Russell backed him delivering solid South Senate votes for which they were repaid with a nuanced defense of segregation/Jim Crowe, the Southern Manifesto (LBJ did not sign) and watered down version of Civil Right legislation proposed by the GOP. These years ('55-'61) were the "time" Frank alludes to when Lyndon was on the wrong side of history. And yes, there is a Senate building named after Richard Russell - Architecturally it's the best of the three Senate office buildings.

But Lyndon did get on the right side of history after bumping off JFK in Dallas and setting that bloody Camelot crown on his own big, fat head.

It's obvious from the opening scenes in Season 2 that HOC is going to jump the shark and Frank and Claire played hopscotch over the shark tank in every episode. Listing each example would be tedious but here are a few cues for the attentive HOC viewer to keep in mind while slogging through 13 hours of DC drama.
  • Zoe's demise
  • quorum via martial law
  • abortion/rape interview
  • subsidy for nuclear power
  • Prez marriage counseling
  • Galloway photos
  • ménage à trois
  • Walker's impeachment/resignation
Everything listed above + a lot more that I didn't catalog stretched the possible to a breaking point - I know it's only a movie or weekly entertainment or whatever but these scenarios are improbable at best and impossible to anyone who knows the inner workings of the DC power people. On the other hand, Joe Biden is our current Vice President so...

House of Cards Season 2 can be summed up in one of Frank's insane soliloquies he unloads in moments of day to day angst - this one at a Civil War reenactment and monument ground breaking during the 4th episode (Chapter X):

"In Gaffney people called it the war of northern aggression. I personally take no pride in the confederacy. Avoid wars you can't win and never raise your flag for an asinine cause like slavery."

This is the inner voice of the Southern Democrat from Gaffney, SC? Really? The writers of this show expect their audience to choke down this bullshit and "move-on" as if putting these words in Frank Underwood's mouth is even remotely acceptable? Truthful??? Let's break it down:

Gaffney, SC - It might surprise HOC viewers to know that there was no town of Gaffney, SC in the years 1861-1865 and it really didn't become a legitimate town until 1900ish. Up until the 20th Century Gaffney was a cross roads tavern where travelers going from one place to the other spent the night and then moved on. Childhood home of well known cosmopolitans like Neil Chambers and Andie McDowell it hardly seems the home of post-WW2 citizens who hate "the North" and their Yankee US Government. In truth, most people who lived in North Western South Carolina probably did not favor secession from the Union but we'll never know because in 1860 the people of South Carolina were not allowed to vote for President but for or against, they didn't enjoy the consequences of defeat. The flower of Southern manhood was all but extinguished in the conflagration leaving hardscrabble crackers (like Frank Underwoods great grand-pappy) and vile carpetbagging scum to fill the leadership void and rebuild a broken society.
War of northern aggression - There's are reasons southerners refer to the Civil War/War Between the States as the war of northern aggression. Some of those reasons are hollow but some of them are absolutely justified. If you're ever in NYC Central Park stroll over to the corner of 59th and 5th Ave and observe the goings on around the golden monument to William Tecumseh Sherman - even today there is a good chance you'll witness a descendant of southern blood walk up to the base of the statue and spit upon it with disgust and revulsion. Total War is hell and that's what "the North" unleashed on Southern women, children and slaves in WTS's famous March to the Sea - once Sherman reached Savanah (i.e. the sea) he turned north and laid waist to central South Carolina so yes, maybe there are some Gaffney residents who refer to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression.
No pride in the confederacy - Oh, really Frank, well that makes you quite unique among Southern Democrats like Richard Russell and LBJ. The confederacy (or what was left of it) was their inheritance and they formed a unified and powerful voting block that propelled that ideology to power in the 1932 Presidential election and FDR's New Deal.
Avoid wars you can't win - by this he must mean taking on a friendly multibillionaire political contributor or strong arming the PRCC on trade or slandering a prominent military leader as a pretense for pushing "anti-rape" legislation through congress or impeaching a sitting President (your boss) for the "crime" of accepting illegal foreign dollar campaign contributions washed through a superPAC (see Clinton Foundation) - all of these wars Frank takes on and miraculously wins most of them.
Never raise your flag for an asinine cause - Like, for instance, abortion on demand, nuclear power, pork-barrel spending or the hundreds of other asinine causes Frank champions. He raises and lowers his flag like a majorette marching down Constitution Ave.
Slavery - yeh, slavery, what an asinine idea. Hard to believe anyone raised a flag over it - the 19th Century version of FU would have never been so base as to exploit the issue of slavery for political advantage and self preservation. No, he would have seen the light and explained to the simple minded people of Gaffney (or at least the farmers, smiths and hunters living near the tavern at the cross road) how abolishing slavery and flooding the countryside with newly liberated (i.e. homeless), illiterate, unskilled Africans who, by the way, 95% of the Gaffneyites had absolutely nothing to do with importing, buying or breeding, was a great idea and the morally right thing to do. The 1860's incarnation of Frank Underwood can be counted on to throw himself into that breach and speak truth to the mob of slack-jawed crackers scratching their lice riddle heads and staring down at their bare feet stuck in that South Carolina clay as they listen and learn from a native son about the asininity of slavery.

President Johnson IS a role model for striving VP Underwood, but it's Andrew, not Lyndon who should be hanging on his office wall. A model Democrat who "raised his flag" (and lowered it) for causes great and small while navigating the most tumultuous period in American history he worked his way up the chain from the House to the Governors mansion to the Senate and into the White House. He took his seat behind the Resolute and hung on to that old wooden life raft as it bobbed the tumultuous sea of the Reconstruction era. One thing is for certain, Netflx would never make a series on the life of Andrew Johnson (though it would be one of the greatest and most penetrating political dramas ever conceived) but instead will continue to push the fabricated, pig headed numbskull named Frank Underwood down Americas eyeballs as a model of the political class. The best book on the temperament of every Vice President is Steve Tally's witty history titled "Bland Ambition" which illuminates the essential character of FU in all its glorious mendacity and makes you wonder why House of Cards has any fans other than a small gang of political operatives in Washington DC and other State capitals like Albany and Sacramento.

“I called this ‘Bland Ambition’ because vice presidents tend to want to be something and not people who want to do something,” said Tally, a West Lafayette author. “They’re not people of great vision. They’re not people trying to lead a movement. They’re just looking for that next stepping stone or the next rung up the ladder.”

Sounds like Joe Biden to me - And many other VPs real or imagined who populate the subconscious American mind. Ready to take over as POTUS in the event of their bosses death (Johnson & Johnson) or silent coup (Ford & Underwood). As VP they get their own house, plane, cars, staff, security briefings, secret service detail - they even get a lackey who holds the Nuclear Weapons security codes to follow them everywhere.  Joe Biden has the nuclear codes folks, Joe Biden HAS THE NUCLEAR CODES!


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