WASHINGTON: On its Friday premier, the #MeToo movement collided with the sixth and final season of the Netflix Original series “House of Cards.” Claire Underwood has replaced husband Francis as president of the United States. And in an example of life imitating art, the actress playing her, Robin Wright, has replaced alleged sexual harasser Kevin Spacey as the show’s executive producer.
Getting no respect
As the story begins, disgraced former President Frank J. Underwood is dead and buried. And it’s clear America’s first female chief executive, his grieving widow Claire, isn’t getting the respect she believes she so richly deserves. Her staff informs her that threats on her life are up significantly. More than her late husband, himself a victim of an attempted assassination.
Worst still, she can’t even get respect from the women in the military she now commands.
While mingling with US Army troops after a Fourth of July ceremony, President Underwood approaches an African-American, female private.
“I promise you and every woman in this country that during my presidency the key components of the Equal Rights Amendment will finally pass. I’m going to make sure of it. I want you to know I support you.”
But it’s clear the black soldier has more important matters on her mind than the fixations of white, affluent, suburban feminists. She’s more concerned at how Underwood will serve as Commander-in-Chief when it comes to US troop deployments to Syria.
“Do you even have a plan? One that won’t get us all killed?
The first female president is taken aback.
“Would you have asked me that if I were a man?”
A full-metal-jacket calling card
And later, while her motorcade speeds to the field where Air Force One sits, a bullet strikes the presidential limousine, uncomfortably close to Claire Underwood’s head. But the slug is deflected by the car’s five-inch-thick bulletproof glass.
Diverted to a safe location, Underwood breaks the “fourth wall” and speaks directly to the audience, ala Shakespeare’s “Richard III”:
“I will say, whoever tried to kill me – perversely – it’s the first sign of real respect I’ve gotten in one hundred days.”
Small government villains
She begins to unravel a conspiracy. One in which forces fighting for limited government are out to destroy Washington’s instruments of force and intrigue. As she tells us:
“Before he [Francis] died, he aligned himself with some very powerful people. And I think they turned on him and they wanted him dead. And I think they want me dead too… These people, these powerful families, they advocate dismantling intelligence agencies: CIA, FBI, Homeland.”
One must remember that the government under the command of Clair Underwood was attained through Machiavellian treachery and murder. She wishes to preserve the powerful federal leviathan at her command because, like her, it is unfeeling, calculating, and monstrous.
And her severe haute couture Mao suits go a long way in augmenting her severe look of ice-cold, authoritarian menace.
A familiar monster
And just like a certain failed Democratic presidential candidate, Claire Underwood rode into politics on her husband’s coattails. A caricature of 1970s feminism produced by the nation’s male “oligarchy.”
And just like a certain failed Democratic presidential candidate, accusations of Russian collusion serve as a convenient weapon against political opponents.
“Presidents aren’t allowed to be human,” says Madam President Claire Hale… that’s right, she’s back to using her maiden name. “You have to choose – power or love.”
When the totality of life is reduced to soulless power politics, one can’t help but abandon their humanity. In doing so, they become a threat to every living thing around them.
“And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.”
“House of Cards” is currently streaming on Netflix.