A Helluva 1% Inaccuracy

[WARNING: Spoilers for House of Cards Season 3 ahead!]

At Lunch Buffet I noted the story wherein House of Cards star Kevin Spacey let us know (via The Hill’s Judy Kurtz) that Bill Clinton had told him the show was a “99% accurate” depiction of Washington.

As the star of Netflix’s political thriller, Spacey plays the corrupt and conniving President Frank Underwood. Spacey, who counts former President Clinton among his pals, tells Gotham magazine, while doing his best Clinton impression, “Kevin, 99 percent of what you do on that show is real.”

Continuing with his impersonation of the 42nd president, Spacey says, as Clinton, that there’s one aspect of the show that’s pure fiction. “The 1 percent you get wrong is you could never get an education bill passed that fast.”

I’m a big fan of Kevin Spacey, but I really doubt the Big Dog told him that, and if he did he was joshing.

I’ve now seen enough of the third season of the show to know about Democratic President Underwood’s big initiative called America Works wherein he proposes to cut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare by $500 billion, apparently in immediate benefits, in order to pour that money into an emergency jobs program aimed at hiring 10 million people via infrastructure positions, defense spending increases, and some sort of big fat job tax credit for employers. To his staff and then to the American people in a big speech, Underwood mocks entitlement programs as a scam and intergenerational looting, just like he’s Robert Samuelson or something. The initiative is of course opposed by hidebound members of his party and by all Republicans, but you get the sense The People are eventually going to love it.

That, of course, is completely insane on all sorts of levels, most of all the politics. Whoever is getting paid to keep the show politically realistic might have screwed up the courage to tell the writers and director and actors that this would poll at around 2% outside the Beltway. Yes, some Very Serious People would love it, but that’s hardly enough for good ratings.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.