Bad as We Want to Be - Scott Meslow - House of Cards - POLITICO Magazine
Last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner began with a very special introduction from one of the few members of Congress most Americans could identify by sight: Francis Underwood, the ladder-climbing sociopath played by Kevin Spacey in Netflix’s House of Cards. “You know my motto, Ed,” said Spacey to Fox News’s Ed Henry, then-president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. “You scratch my back, I won’t lacerate yours.”
A short video that played after Spacey spoke exemplified a rare bipartisan convergence to get something done. Alongside a number of other politicians and journalists, John McCain, Mike Bloomberg, Valerie Jarrett and Steny Hoyer were shown in conversation with Underwood, the Democratic congressman from South Carolina who, when we last left him at the conclusion of the series’ first season, was the House majority whip. “I may lie, cheat and intimidate to get what I want, but at least I get the job done,” Underwood said at the video’s end. “So I hope some of you were taking notes.”
Right on cue, the room united in uproarious laughter. We’ve seen something similar these past few days, ever since the second season debuted on Netflix on Friday. But the across-the-aisle affection for the nefarious—even criminal—exploits at the center of the show raise a question: Why has Washington, D.C., been so enthusiastic about the grim, cynical funhouse version of itself that appears in House of Cards?